Walsden strengthen ahead of crucial cricket season

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WALSDEN are strengthening their team ahead of what could be the most crucial season in their history.

They have made their moves in light of the Central Lancashire League’s decision to split its 16 clubs into two divisions in 2013.

It means that Walsden - officially founded in 1870 - will have every incentive to match last year’s eighth-placed finish.

The decision was taken at a special meeting at Middleton CC on Friday when clubs voted 11-5 in favour of change, just enough for the required two-thirds majority.

The two-division set-up will be brought in on an experimental basis for two years with two teams promoted and two relegated between the divisions at the end of 2013.

It means a vital season for the top clubs for this summer with sides finishing in the top eight making up the top division for 2013.

Walsden have broadly welcomed the move with some reservations, having had their own different plan for a two-division structure rejected 12 months ago.

The Scott Street club had wanted two equal divisions with teams playing each other twice and facing the teams in the other division once for a 21-game programme.

The section winners would play off for the title.

In the approved format sides will meet each other four times in a 28-game programme.

Walsden spokesman Allan Stuttard said his club had voted in favour of a change from the arduous 30-game programme.

“There has been a loss of interest among players because of a lack of things to play for with no promotion or relegation,” he said.

The new format was not ideal, but it was better that that which currently exists, he said.

Walsden have already made strides to strengthen their side and have high hopes of making the cut for the top section under reappointed skipper Chris Dewhirst.

Their record-breaking batsman James Rawlinson is back and so is all-rounder Nick Barker, son of club secretary Chris.

Rawlinson has had one year as professional at Settle CC in the Ribblesdale League, scoring 797 runs at 36.23. The previous year he had amassed 1,376 in all competitions at 47.45 for Walsden. Barker, mainly a batsman, is returning after two years with neighbours Todmorden.

Last year’s professional Duminda Perera is replaced by his fellow Sri Lankan countryman Ranil Dhammika, an all-rounder who specialises in left arm spin bowling. Walsden have also signed an overseas amateur in New Zealander Hamish Tyne, a quick bowler.