AFTER suffering only one league defeat all season, Ribblesdale League champions Barnoldswick were denied the double on Sunday.
Baxenden skipper Andy Caunce turned in a man of the match performance as he signed off his cricket career by guiding his side to a thrilling Ramsbottom Cup final win over the Victory Park side.
Caunce made a vital 43 in Baxenden’s innings of 265 all out, while professional Kamran Younas finished with 100 as Barnoldswick, bidding for a first Ramsbottom Cup win since 1985, tried to stay in the game.
And they were certainly in touching distance of victory when they reached 229-4 in their reply.
However, Abdul Saddique (pictured, 81) and skipper Matt Nutter (48) were removed in successive deliveries from Younas and Kurt Smithson to trigger a collapse.
“I was always confident even when they needed 40 of the last 10 overs,” said Caunce.
“I was still grinning away and telling the boys to relax.
“I didn’t feel under too much pressure because I know what a difference a couple of quick wickets can make.
“But you can’t take it away from Barnoldswick.
“To go through a season losing only one league game is a fantastic achievement.
“They played their part in a fantastic final between two very good teams. Thankfully, for us, we came out on the right side of the result.”
Younas finished with 5-32, while Smithson chipped in with 3-49 as Baxenden, who finished 51 points behind Barnoldswick in the league, lifted the trophy for a third time in four years.
The previous day, Barnoldswick ended their title-winning campaign in typical winning style at Cherry Tree.
Professional Imran Khalid top-scored with 73 as Barlick made 211-8, and he then got the five wickets he required to reach three figures for the season, finishing with 101 after claiming 6-11 as Cherry Tree were all out for 89.
Earby were hoping to avoid finishing with the wooden spoon, but had the misfortune of facing runnenrs-up Read at Whalley Road.
Professional Jordan Clark hit 118 and Jonathan Harvey - who was paid man when Earby won the title in 1996 - made 114 not out in a total of 281-4.
Earby were dismissed for 147 in reply, despite 58 from Ali Azmat in his final game for the club after seven years as professional.