Reigning Ribblesdale League Champions Clitheroe were defeated by last season’s wooden spoonists Salesbury on the opening day of the 2011 season.
The match was a fairytale for sub-pro Ockert Erasmus. The 22-year-old South African is paid man at East Lancs this year, but was on duty for the Red Caps at Chatburn Road.
After hitting 58 to help Salesbury to 203-9, he produced a scintillating bowling performance and took a club record 9-22 as Clitheroe endured a disappointing start.
Clitheroe captain Naeem Ashraf was full of praise for Erasmus’ performance: “He took us by surprise and put in a very good performance. He’s a very good spin bowler and he batted very well too.”
Clitheroe’s Farouk Butt was unlucky to be on the losing side as he took 6-39 and finished as highest scorer for his side with 28.
Clitheroe take on Great Harwood on Saturday, with both sides looking to gain their first win.
Ashraf also added that the best from his side will come soon: “We lost six first team players last year, and we are blooding a few juniors. It will be a difficult game at Great Harwood. It’s the start of the season and both teams won’t know a lot about each other.”
Salesbury captain Jason Rowson was thrilled with his team’s performance: “We’re absolutely delighted with the start, we obviously finished bottom last year and we were visiting the champions. The lads were excellent from start to finish.”.
On sub-pro Erasmus’ performance, Rawson said: “He was exceptional, we’d never seen him play before but he’s a great lad, very positive, and fitted in well with our lads. Pete Blackman and James Watson backed him up very well when we were batting, and we set what we thought was a very defendable score. Then the lad’s (Erasmus) just gone and bowled a jaffa of a bowl to get their opener out. He carried on from there and his figures were top notch. What made it even better was that he’s only been in England three days!”
Salesbury will hope to carry on their great start to the season when they entertain Earby on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in another local derby, Whalley produced an excellent bowling performance to defeat Ribblesdale Wanderers by 48 runs.
The home side set Ribblesdale 169 to win, which was a very good score with professional Kamran Younas scoring only four.
Opener Martin Davies performed well with the bat to score 69, with Lee Kearsley hitting a tidy 36.
Younas made up for his failure with the bat by bowling very well and claiming five wickets.
Captain Richard Palmer praised his side’s performance with the bat: “It was a very pleasing performance and it was a good way to start. Despite our pro scoring low, we got to a decent total.”
Palmer also went on to praise Younas’ bowling: “There were some excellent bowling performances but Kamran was unplayable and I think he’s going to be a threat this year, he was excellent. We’re very confident in him and he created pressure for the opposition and they started to try things they wouldn’t usually do, and he’s taken five good wickets.”
Whalley travel to title favourites Read on Saturday, and Palmer says it was important to get off to a winning start before such a tough game: “The win gives us confidence going into the game with one of the favourites for the title. We did well against them last season and we’ll respect them, but we don’t fear them.”
Ribblesdale had off-spinner Muhammad Wajihuddin making his debut for the club and he made a good start, taking four wickets and impressing captain Ian Britcliffe along the way: “Muhammad bowled very well, we didnt know what to expect and he gets it moving a bit and if we’d have held onto a few catches, he could have been looking at six or seven wickets but it wasn’t to be.”
Britcliffe also added that he felt his side were looking very strong until Whalley opener Davies started to find his rhythm: “In the first hour, we looked comfortable, we had them at a low score after about 18 or 19 overs and we got their pro out, but I think the difference between the two teams was Davies’ knock. He got them to a decent total.”
Ribblesdale will be looking to bounce back from the defeat when they travel to Padiham on Saturday. Britcliffe is hoping to have more options available for the game: “As it is for every club, we’ve got a few players missing because they’re still playing football, but hopefully we’ll train well this week and have some players back. The result won’t affect us too much because it’s only the start of the season.”
Read’s 10-wicket thrashing of Great Harwood turned into the Stuart Hornby show.
The new Whalley Road paid man wasted no time in making an impression as he recorded figures of 8-39 with the ball and top scored with an unbeaten 62 with the bat alongside Ben Law (16 not out).
Captain Warren Eastham said: “It was the Stuart Hornby show really.
“We bowled first and had Great Harwood out for 92 and then Stuart’s torn through them with 8-39 and Jon Harvey’s taken a further two wickets.
“Then we’ve chased their total and Stuart’s hit an unbeaten 62 and Ben Law was 16 not out.
“It’s not a bad return that for him at all and he was carrying a bit of a niggle on his calf as well.
“He looked really good; bowled a good, straight length and swung it around with the bat.
“He was exceptional and he’ll be a great addition to the squad.
“It was a great all-round performance and everybody fielded well.
“Great Harwood were pretty poor to be honest and their pro never looked comfortable.
“Once Russell Whalley went, they had no fuel left in the tank. You never know what you’re going to get with Great Harwood.
“We got at them quickly though, and once Russell went it was game over.”
He added: “We were never worried about chasing 92 on what was a good wicket.
“It’s nice to get that first game out of the way and have 12 points on the board which puts us right up there straight away.”
• CLITHEROE Cobras Girls have double reason to celebrate. Not content with becoming the first ever all-girls team to play in the Lancashire League, they have excelled themselves by having two representatives in the Lancashire Under 11s squad.
Following a winter of intense training with the Cobras and trials at Old Trafford, Martha Smith (10) and Niamh Kay (11) have both been selected to represent Lancashire in a County Festival in Kent against Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and the host county in August.
Clitheroe Cobras Girls Head Coach Bill Smith said: “Martha and Niamh started their cricketing journey at four years old ,when they joined Cobras, and they have every reason to pleased with their county call ups. It’s absolutely wonderful to see all the hard work come to fruition. We have invested a lot of time and effort into developing girls cricket at the club and now we are reaping the rewards.”
“Over 40 girls are members of our set up and it is very encouraging to see things going from strength to strength. We are really looking forward to this season and hopefully the Cobras Girls will take a few scalps of the all boys teams in the Lancashire League!”
If any girls wish to become involved in cricket then they are welcome to attend training sessions on Thursdays from 6 p.m. at Clitheroe Cricket Club, where expert tuition is provided, irrespective of age or ability.