Sladdin will fill pro slot

Walsden have tempted former county spinner Richard Sladdin out of retirement to fill their professional spot for the 2013 campaign.

The 44-year-old ex-Derbyshire and Somerset player steps into the slot vacated by Sri Lankan Ranil Dhammika, who Walsden are unable to afford after a visit from the taxman.

The Central Lancashire League champions have suffered another blow on the overseas front with the news that Australian Brenton Edwards will not be coming.

Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale said that batsman Edwards, who is from the Bayswater Morley club in Western Australia, had given backword after being offered a job following the completion of an apprenticeship.

That adds to the disruption the Scott Street club have suffered after looking well placed to make a strong defence of their title a couple of weeks ago.

Gale said Walsden were looking for a replacement overseas amateur for Edwards and were hoping Sladdin would be able to make a positive contribution as their paid man.

“It makes it easier for us to get an English-born pro and we have not got a left arm spinner at the club,” he said.

“Chris Dewhirst has plenty of bowling options, with several medium pacers, but this gives us something different.”

Halifax-born Sladdin played for Derbyshire from 1991 to 1994 and for Somerset in 1997.

He was Derbyshire’s first choice slow bowler at one time but his county career came to a fairly abrupt end and he reverted to local league cricket, mainly with Sowerby Bridge in the Halifax League.

Sladdin retired a few years ago and it is a big ask for him to step into the shoes of Dhammika, who took 119 wickets at 7.91 and scored 589 runs at 34.65 in the league last season.

The link with Sladdin is star batsman Matt Dawson, who knows the spinner through his work at the Cricket Academy in Sowerby Bridge.

Dawson said he had first met Sladdin in a pub in Sowerby Bridge.

Sladdin had subsequently done some coaching at the Asylum and passed his level two coaching certificate. “It seems to have re- ignited his passion for the game,” said Dawson.

Dawson said Sladdin had taken part in a couple of friendlies for Hebden Bridge last summer and played five-a-side regularly so he was fit for his age.

“He did not take our offer seriously at first but we had a bit of a net and a chat and that changed things.

“Some guys of 50-odd still take a lot of wickets bowling spin in our league and Richard has had people tied in knots in the nets.

“Everybody at the club is very positive about the situation. To get an ex-first class player at this stage is really good.”

Sladdin also revealed that Walsden had a possible Indian replacement for Edwards.

Walsden started pre-season nets at the Cricket Asylum last Friday evening but the attendance was hit due to a stag trip to Prague.