clifton first up for champs

Walsden celebfrate winning the 2012 CLL title
Walsden celebfrate winning the 2012 CLL title

Walsden will start their defence of the Central Lancashire League title with a trip to play Clifton on Sunday, April 14.

The long wait for the first fixture list following the splitting of the league into two sections for 2013 is over and the Scott Street club will be hoping it is a straightforward start.

Clifton finished seventh last season and Chris Dewhirst’s side had two comfortable victories against them, by 131 runs and seven wickets.

However, the Manchester Road side will have two Aussies on their books this summer, pro Cameron Murray and Lachlan Mason, and ex- Surrey opening bowler Steve Cheetham will play when not required by Yorkshire seconds.

After the Clifton game, Walsden have successive home matches against derby rivals Littleborough, the last side to make the cut for the Premier, and 2012 runners-up Heywood.

Walsden will have a 28-game league programme - two less than last year - made up of four fixtures against each of the other seven teams.

Under the experimental system, the bottom two will be relegated at the expense of the top two from the Championship at the end of 2013.

The fixture format is not what Walsden had wanted.

“We had a different proposal,” said spokesman Kenny Gale, who would have preferred the league to make some Sundays available for Twenty/20 cricket to attract crowds and boost revenue.

Looking at the fixtures, Gale added: “All the teams are going to be useful because they are the top eight from last year so every game will be difficult.”

Walsden’s seconds are also in the top flight after finishing fifth last year.

Their fixtures are no longer an exact reverse of the firsts. The first three games are against Clifton (home), Royton (away) and Heywood (away).