Fine run eases Walsden skipper James’s pain

In temporary charge: Nick Barker, who has been in good form with the bat recently
In temporary charge: Nick Barker, who has been in good form with the bat recently

Walsden captain James Rawlinson has praised his players as he prepares to sit and suffer on the sidelines this weekend.

The opening batsman injured the Achilles tendon on his left ankle while batting in last Friday’s Twenty/20 game at home to Crompton.

But that didn’t stop the Scott Street side maintaining their 100 per cent record in the competition this season and then going on to register two more wins over the weekend.

Nick Barker took the reins as Walsden beat Clifton on Saturday to go top of the Central Lancashire League and then progressed to the third round of the LCB Cup on Sunday at the expense of visitors Heaton.

Rawlinson has already ruled himself out of Saturday’s visit from Heywood. Fortunately for him it is a relatively light weekend on the fixtures front with Walsden not involved in the rescheduled Wood Cup games on Sunday.

Rawlinson picked up an Achilles problem playing junior football some 20 years ago but said it was something of a mystery how he had sustained his latest injury.

“I was batting and it was the second or third ball that I faced,” he said.

“I can’t really explain what happened but I must have twisted and I heard a pop.”

Rawlinson was out shortly afterwards and was planning to see a physio this week in an effort to speed his recovery.

“It (the injury) was very bad on Saturday, slightly better on Sunday and then better again after that but there is a lot of bruising.

“I’ve ruled out next weekend but I am not ruling out the weekend after, although at the moment I feel that could be doubtful.”

The consolation for the long-serving Rawlinson is that his teammates are playing superbly.

“The lads did fantastically well to beat Clifton and then get through to the next round of the Lancashire Cup,” he said.

Rawlinson said Jake Hooson and the Gale brothers, Joe and Josh, were getting better and better while Jamie Shackleton and Nick Barker were also playing fantastically well.

However, he knows a talented Heywood side are capable of posing major problems, even though Walsden have already won at Crimble this year.

“Playing Heywood will always be a challenge because they have some talented players in the likes of Bobby Cross and Danny Pawson.

“Their pro (Kiwi international all-rounder Rob Nicol) is a very good player so we will have to be on top form.”

Walsden can look forward to a home quarter final in the Twenty/20 competition after making it four wins out of four in their group with a fine bowling performance to dismiss Crompton for 97 in reply to their 131 for seven on Friday.

Joe Gale helped Walsden get the better of Clifton with four for 34 and 48 runs, although he was dropped soon after making it into double figures.

Hooson hit 63 at the top of the order and Calum Rushton, back from Littleborough this season, saw Walsden to a target of 220 with two wickets in hand.

Walsden used to play pre-season friendlies away to Blackpool CC and they will head back to the west coast club on Sunday, July 5, in the LCB Cup.

Half-centuries from Nick Barker and Sri Lankan Umesh Karunaratne, plus an unbeaten 44 from Joe Gale, helped Walsden to 231 for four off their 45 overs against Heaton.

The Bolton League side looked a threat when Pakistani Humayun Farhat was at the crease but Joe Gale dismissed him for 69 and then Imran Mirza for 40.

The luckless Mirza hit onto his boot and the ball ballooned back to Gale before the visitors subsided to 173 all out.