Local derby rivalry provides curtain-raiser to new cricket season

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CALDER Valley’s top two cricket teams meet in a friendly fixture on Saturday.

Walsden have already started their season in the Central Lancashire League, while Todmorden begin their Lancashire League campaign on Sunday at Ramsbottom.

But the two clubs meet at Centre Vale on the Saturday, in a final preparation game for Todmorden.

“As always against your local neighbours it will be a very competitive game,” said Todmorden skipper Andrew Sutcliffe.

“Both sides are as strong as they have been for a while in the amateur ranks and both are aided with two very good professionals.

“A few players have moved either way this year between the clubs which no doubt will add to the competitiveness of the game.

“The players on both sides know each other well and there are some great friendships within the teams.

“Everyone is hoping for a strong game of cricket and the weather to hold out for the weekend,” he said.

The season starts with the swap of the Barker brothers and Oliver Wood to Walsden, and Walsden’s former players Kris Garland and Elliott Gilford playing for Todmorden although former Walsden wicket keeper Joe Hanson, another Todmorden recruit, will be on holiday.

Todmorden’s professional Qaiser Abbas is expected to arrive on Friday, ready for the start of the season.

Todmorden’s league season starts on Sunday at Ramsbottom.

Sutcliffe said: “It’s a tough start but both teams will be well prepared and backing themselves for victory.

“We are looking for a strong performance to open the league season and hoping to hit the ground running with our new recruits in the ranks.”

Todmorden could not manage a win in three pre-season trial games, falling short twice when chasing totals, and just being pipped at the end on the third occasion.

The games were against Blackpool, Thongsbridge from the Huddersfield League second division and lastly against top Huddersfield League first division side Honley.

Despite the results there were some good individual performances with the ball and the bat, notably newcomer Gilford, who hit 78 against Honley.