Ribble Valley teams ready to start cricket season

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THE 2013 Ribblesdale Cricket League season is upon us and five teams from the Ribble Valley will be looking to make an impression on the senior division.

Read captain Kyle O’Connor feels his side will be pushing for honours again this term after finishing runners up to Barnoldswick, Baxenden and Clitheroe in successive seasons.

The Whalley Road club, who kickstart their season against Settle at home, have appointed Mohammed Jamal as professional while the departing Jordan Clark is the only change.

“We’ve finished runner-up for the last three seasons so it would be nice to push on and finally get there,” said O’Connor. “We want to be playing as much cricket as possible so we’re looking to do well in all competitions.”

Meanwhile, Clitheroe captain Paul Gaskell is adamant that the club has strengthened during the break. After retaining the services of Kashif Siddique as their paid man, the Chatburn Road side have added Cherry Tree’s Paul Turner and Nelson’s Touqir Hussain to their ranks though Josh McDowell has pledged his future to Longridge CC.

Gaskell, who will lead his team out against Great Harwood on home soil at the weekend, said: “We want to build on our third place finish from last season. We’ve brought in some quality players so we hope to be challenging for the league.”

There’s also been additions at Station Road as Whalley captain Richard Palmer looks to bolster his squad ahead of the new campaign.

Whalley travel to face 2011 champions Baxenden on the opening day but Palmer, who has lost Declan Fitzhenry to Longridge CC, refuses to be intimidated after capturing Indian all-rounder Saurabh Bandekar and Ribblesdale Wanderers duo Dave Howard and Stephen Kerr.

“We’ve strengthened so we’re optimistic,” he said. “We are always looking to try and get in the top five, that’s our benchmark. We want to qualify for the Lancashire Cup.”

Elsewhere, Salesbury skipper Steve Brown believes there’ll be progression at Ribchester Road. Salesbury, who will boast Susantha Pradeep as pro for the third consecutive year, welcome two new faces to the set up. The experienced John Wharton has been forced to retire due to injury but he’ll be replaced by son Scott while Mudasser Panchbhaya will also join him from Lancashire League outfit East Lancs for the opening fixture at home to Edenfield.

“We are aiming to build on last year and push up the league,” said Brown. “We are determined to progress in the Twenty20 as well. ”

Finally, Ribblesdale Wanderers, guided by captain Martin Briggs, will start the season against Oswaldtwistle Immanuel at New Lane.