Ranil’s return to Walsden called off

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Walsden’s hopes of including Sri Lanka ace Ranil Dhammika in their line-up for Sunday’s crunch trip to Littleborough have been dashed.

Dhammika was the star of the Scott Street club’s title success in 2012 and he was keen to rejoin his former teammates in the second Central Lancashire League match of Walsden’s weekend.

Walsden are seeking substitute professionals because Dhammika’s countryman Umesh Karunaratne is making a short trip home for his brother’s wedding.

The champions have secured the services of Usman Tariq, who plays for Church in the Lancashire League, for Saturday’s home match against Clifton.

Dhammika was keen to play for Walsden on Sunday but the 33-year-old’s trip north had to been cancelled due to a new rule in the league in Staffordshire in which he now plays. That prevents club pro’s playing elsewhere.

Walsden were yesterday scrambling around for a replacement.

Slow left arm spinner Dhammika was the CCL’s top bowler in 2012 with 119 wickets at 7.91. He backed it up with 589 runs at 34.65.

Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale said Dhammika had been hoping to stay in the Walsden area over Bank Holiday to meet up with friends.

“It is disappointing he can’t come. It would have been nice to see him again and as a player you know he is going to take wickets for you and possibly get some runs.”

Walsden, who have won their opening two games in the quest for a title hat-trick, expect this weekend’s opponents to provide sterner tests than Werneth, who were beaten by eight wickets on Sunday.

Clifton are likely to have ex-Lancashire paceman Steve Cheetham while Littleborough have added a couple of useful bowlers to a line-up already containing Aussie pro Clinton Perren and ex-England player Chris Schofield.

It was all too easy for Walsden last Sunday.

Werneth looked threatening at 63 for one but three wickets for Richard Sladdin helped reduce them to 81 for five. After a 43-run stand, Werneth lost their last five wickets with the total on 124, Karunaratne and Joe Gale ripping through the tail.

Jake Hooson was caught behind in the first over of Walsden’s reply but James Rawlinson was his usual belligerent self and hit 87 in a stand of 109 for the second wicket with Stevie Barker (21 no).

Rawlinson was run out off a misfield, trying to retain the strike in pursuit of a century, but Barker and Karunaratne (10 no) completed the job.

Walsden are holding a race night on Sunday (7.30).