Injury blows for Valley giants

Actions from Walsden v Monton and Weaste cricket, at Walsden, Pictured is Umesh Karunaratne
Actions from Walsden v Monton and Weaste cricket, at Walsden, Pictured is Umesh Karunaratne

The Calder Valley’s two biggest cricket clubs, Walsden and Todmorden, have been rocked by major injury blows.

Pennine League champions Walsden will be without professional Umesh Karuneratne for at least the first three weekends of the 2017 season.

The 28-year-old right handed batsman and off-break bowler, due back at Scott Street this week for a fourth season at the club, has suffered an injury back home in Sri Lanka.

His arrival has been delayed, a situation new skipper Nick Barker admitted was “not ideal.”

Barker’s father Chris, a key figure at the club, said: “We found out that he had torn a muscle in his leg during club training.

“We have got a medical certificate and clearance from the Pennine League to use substitute professionals for the early games.”

Walsden, who also won the Wood Cup last year, open their title defence with a trip to major rivals Norden on Sunday.

They will use Lancashire CCC’s Arron Lilley, an off-spinning all-rounder and T20 specialist, as their first sub pro.

Meanwhile, Todmorden will be without prolific opening batsman Simon Newbitt for the first month of the season.

The left-hander, a former Halifax League player with Old Town and Triangle, has suffered a broken finger in training and skipper Andrew Sutcliffe said it was “a hammer blow.”

Newbitt has scored 7499 runs in 302 Lancashire League games for the Centre Vale club at an average of 29.40.

Tod, whose opener away to East Lancashire last Sunday was washed out, have more gaps to plug in the side for Sunday’s home game against Enfield.

Medium pacer bowlers Matt Collins and Graham Lalor are both missing from the attack.