Spin ace’s timely return

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Last season’s professional Richard Sladdin is back for Walsden in their continued Central Lancashire League title quest this weekend.

The ex-county spinner, who took 50-plus wickets after coming out of retirement last season, suffered a shoulder injury in early May and hasn’t played since.

However, he is fit for a double dose of action away to Heywood on Saturday and at home to Royton on Sunday.

His bowling will come in useful as paceman Jamie Shackleton is getting married at Gretna Green tomorrow and misses both games.

Stevie Barker is at the wedding and will miss the Heywood game while Barker’s brother Nick is working on Sunday.

Christian Halstead steps up into the firsts on Saturday and Walsden hope Matthew Dawson (rib injury) will be fit.

Former first team captain Chris Dewhirst and Cameron Hanson are drafted in for Sunday’s easier game on paper.

Walsden were three-wicket winners at Rochdale last Saturday but still slipped a seventh point behind Norden with nine fixtures to go.

That is because they only claimed nine Rochdale wickets while Norden bowled out Werneth in an 82-run win.

Rochdale’s South African pro Wes Lansdale made 94 out of his side’s 176 for nine.

Walsden, who had looked likely to be chasing more at one stage, made another stuttering start. At 39 for three they needed someone to stand firm and Nick Barker (52) and Umesh Karunaratne (52) did the job with a stand of 92.

Four quick wickets left the game in the balance at 143 for seven, but Joe Gale (29 no) and Stevie Barker (7 no) finished it with four overs to spare.

Gale had been caught trying to make the winning hit off the last ball against Norden the week before so it was a satisfying outcome for him.

Walsden seconds’ Burton Cup final against Norden last Sunday was called off early in the day due to heavy rain. It has been re-arranged for Norden on Bank Holiday Monday, August 25.

Stuart Hanson’s side maintained their title challenge with the help of eight wickets from Tyson Illingworth again Rochdale last Saturday.

Teams - Walsden (away to Heywood): J Rawlinson, N Barker, M Dawson, J Hooson, Josh Gakle, Joe Gale, R Sladdin, D Brown, R Pathan, C Halstead, U Karunaratne. Sunday (home to Royton): S Barker, C Hanson and C Dewhirst for M Dawson, K Halstead and N Barker.

Walsden II (home to Heywood): S Hanson, J Lord, M Halstead, C Dewhirst, C Hanson, Joe Hanson, D Bailey, T Illingworth, P Marrow, D Howley, Jack Hanson. Sunday (away to Unsworth): A Butcher and O Whitehead for C Dewhirst and C Hanson.