James revels in new role

So far so good: Walsden's new captain James Rawlinson
So far so good: Walsden's new captain James Rawlinson

James Rawlinson, thrust into the Walsden captaincy when Chris Dewhirst stepped down a month ago, is enjoying a dream start at the helm.

The Central Lancashire League champions are yet to taste defeat with the 31-year-old opening batsman in charge and they made it four home wins in the space of nine days last Sunday.

Victory over derby rivals Littleborough last Saturday kept Walsden top of the league and the Scott Street men progressed to the last eight of the Lancashire Cup 24 hours later at Glossop’s expense.

The wins were achieved by comfortable seven and eight-wicket margins and Rawlinson is delighted with the way things are going as skipper.

“I’m enjoying it. It helps that we have a bunch of lads who are all extremely talented players,” he said.

Taking over the captaincy can have an adverse effect on some players’ form but Rawlinson appears to be relishing the responsibility.

The hard-hitting left hander was the key player last weekend with knocks of 83 against Littleborough and 81 against Glossop.

“The wickets are coming good and they are more batsman-friendly,” he explained.

“I’d like to think that the captaincy will have no effect on my performances.”

Rawlinson is part of the fixtures and fittings at the Scott Street club but he admitted that it had come as a shock when he was asked to be captain.

“I was surprised but it is a welcome opportunity and I was happy to do it if it was the best thing for the club.

”The lads have got behind me and it has been fantastic so far.”

Walsden go to Clifton on Saturday looking to maintain the momentum. They have already beaten their hosts twice in the league in 2014 but are wary of the fact that Clifton’s Sri Lankan batsman Thilina Masmulla has hit form.

Victory over Littleborough last Saturday was particularly satisfying for Walsden as their derby rivals had been the last team to beat them.

Rawlinson added 112 for the third wicket with Riaz Pathan (49 no) as Walsden romped to a target of 183 against their rivals.

The only slight disappointments were that Riaz was denied a half-century - Schofield wides at the end saw to that - and that Walsden had to settle for four points instead of five, having failed to pick up Littleborough’s final wicket in the first half of the contest.

Five visiting batsmen made it into the 20s but none went beyond, Jake Hooson picking up the key wicket of Aussie Clinton Perren for nine and the Barker brothers, Steve and Nick, combining to dismiss ex-England player Chris Schofield for 20.

On Sunday, Rawlinson figured in an opening stand of 120 with Hooson (47) as Walsden eased past Glossop’s 162 all out.

Walsden meet the winners of Sunday’s game between Little Lever and Prestwich in the quarter finals .

Walsden seconds are also top of the league - a further indication of the club’s playing strength - after winning at Littleborough last Saturday.

They will be hoping to book a place in the Burton Cup final when they play lower-section side Middleton at home on Sunday.