Home test as Walsden take over at the top again

Walsden's Nick Barker
Walsden's Nick Barker

Walsden head into a busy weekend of home cricket sitting proudly back on top of the Central Lancashire League.

Chris Dewhirst’s reigning champions jumped from third to first last Saturday when they leap-frogged Heywood with a 67-run win away to last year’s runners-up and leaders Littleborough were shot out for 48 by Clifton.

Walsden will look to keep up the good work against Milnrow on Saturday. That league match is sandwiched between two more Scott Street contests, against Littleborough at Twenty/20 tomorrow evening and Barnoldswick in the LCB Cup on Sunday.

They look likely to be without ex-county spinner Richard Sladdin for another month due to the hand injury he suffered playing 13 days ago but have managed to obtain the services of the bang-in-form Ashar Zaidi as a stand-in pro for Saturday.

Zaidi was in the runs last weekend for his Lancashire League club Accrington and as a pro replacement for Middleton. He is also a left arm spinner, like Sladdin.

Walsden went to Heywood having borrowed Todmorden pro Geeth Alwis and with no paid man in the opposition ranks to worry about.

The host club’s South African Travis Townend had split the webbing on his hand playing Twenty/20 the previous evening, leaving Heywood with insufficient time to find a replacement.

In the event, Walsden gave another illustration of their amateur strength, rallying from 27 for three to reach 202 all out.

They were forced into a late change in their batting order when James Rawlinson hurt a finger in the warm-up.

He eventually batted at six and helped put right the early damage inflicted by Heywood’s overseas amateur Riley Paterson.

Nick Barker was the real star, making 81 and being seventh out with the total on 183.

Barker shared stands of 41 with Matthew Dawson (18), 54 with Rawlinson (24), 36 with Joe Gale (19) and 27 with Josh Gale (21) as Walsden totalled 202.

Nineteen-year-old off spinner Joe Lovell (five for 59) wrapped up the innings with two deliveries remaining.

At 99 for two Heywood were in the hunt but dangerous pair Danny Pawson and Ross Zelem departed in quick succession and the home side subsided to 135 all out.

Alwis atoned for his earlier duck with three for 40 off 16 overs and Joe Gale had three for 20.

Walsden kept alive their Twenty/20 hopes with a nine-wicket thrashing of Crompton on Friday.

They bowled out the lower-section visitors for 50 with Josh Gale taking three for five off four overs and Jamie Shackleton three for 23.

They completed a nine-wicket win in six overs with Joe Gale hitting 22 off just five balls - and one of those was a swing and a miss!

Walsden must now beat Littleborough, who have won their opening two matches, to have a chance of progressing from the group.

Sunday’s visitors Barnoldswick from the Ribblesdale League are an unknown quantity and Walsden are not allowed a sub professional in the LCB Cup.

Walsden’s seconds ensured it was a day of double celebration for the club last Saturday, beating their Heywood counterparts by 70 runs.

Stuart Hanson (38) and Ryan Howley (31) top scored in what looked an inadequate 142. However, Josh Barnes (four for 35) and Mick Butcher (three for 16) helped dismiss Heywood for 72.

The seconds go to Werneth on Saturday and the thirds return to action after a break with their opening league match at Bolton on Sunday.