Harkal last piece in Walsden’s jigsaw

Shuhbam Harkal at Walsden last summer
Shuhbam Harkal at Walsden last summer

Walsden CC are awaiting a decision from Indian teenager Shuhbam Harkal as they look to add the finishes touches to their side for 2014.

The Central Lancashire League champions want Harkal to return for a second season as their overseas amateur after being impressed by his rich potential as a batsman and spin bowler last year.

Skipper Chris Dewhirst said: “We haven’t had an answer yet from Shuhbam but we want him to come back.”

Dewhirst said the cost of the air fare was the stumbling block for the player. They had spoken to a number of South African and Australian players who might be possible alternatives but he said there were “not many options”.

There has been good news on other fronts since the end of last season with Richard Sladdin, a late but successful signing as 2013 pro, agreeing to stay on as an amateur.

He took 60 wickets in spite of missing several matches with a serious hand injury.

Dewhirst revealed that James Rawlinson, who opens with Jake Hooson and has scored plenty of runs for the club, would be playing at Scott Street again.

Rawlinson has moved to Mirfield but decided to travel the extra miles to games.

Walsden are also hoping last year’s vice-captain Matt Dawson may play more games than he had initially indicated at the end of last season.

Dewhirst hopes ex-minor counties wicketkeeper/batsman Dawson, who is heavily involved in coaching at the Cricket Asylum in Sowerby Bridge, may play around half of this summer’s matches.

Walsden, who won the title by a seven-point margin from Littleborough, have been charting the exploits of their new Sri Lankan pro Umesh Karunaratne.

The 25-year-old top order batsman and off spin bowler is currently playing for Chilaw Marians in the top tier of Sri Lankan first class cricket.

In his most recent match, against Tamil Union, he had knocks of 69 and 51 and took three for 51 and one for 43.

“He is doing really well,” said Dewhirst.

Walsden’s seniors are yet to start indoor nets but juniors sessions are at the Cricket Asylum, Sowerby Bridge on Sundays from 3.30 until 5.0.

Walsden fixtures - page 47