Earby open season with home clash, but Barlick made to wait

Barnoldswick captain, Luke Hodgson, bats against Padiham CC.

Barnoldswick captain, Luke Hodgson, bats against Padiham CC.

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The Houldsworth Solicitors Ribblesdale Cricket League gets underway tomorrow.

Barnoldswick, runners-up last season, have to wait until a week tomorrow to get underway, as they have a free date tomorrow.

But Earby are in action, as they host Ramsbottom Cup winners Ribblesdale Wanderers at the Applegarth (wickets pitched 1-30 p.m.).

Earby start life in Section B following the league restructuring, and captain Richard Craddock is targetting promotion: “Our ultimate aim is to finish in the top two.

“I don’t think we were going to challenge in Section A, but I would imagine we must be one of the favourites for Section B - that’s our main focus.

“I’m happy with the restructuring because we played a horrendous amount of cricket last year - we never saw our families - but this year we only play the teams in Section A once, and we play Barlick away, so miss out on the revenue a home game would bring.

“We’re hoping to set up a 20/20 competition instead, and split the gate.”

Earby have replaced Colne-bound professional Ali Azmat with Nelson’s David Crotty, and Craddock is excited about the prospect: “I think we’ve landed on our feet with David, he’s just a good, solid cricketer, who can bat all day.

“He’s settled in well, and only lives in Barlick.

“We also have Matt Haines back from Australia, and we are hoping to blood young Ian White and Jake Greenbank.”

Meanwhile, Barlick skipper Luke Hodgson is confident of competing for honours again: “Hopefully we can be up there again fighting for the title, I’d like to think so anyway.

“Liam Bedford has gone to Enfield in the Lancashire League, but we’ve signed Sean Lemon from Nelson, and our pro is Louis Delport from South Africa, who is a left-arm off spinner who can bat as well.

“We’re itching to get going.

“I can see Settle being strong, especially with our former pro (Imran Khalid), and Clitheroe, maybe Read and Baxenden challenging.”