IF the dress rehearsal is anything to go by Whalley could become Twenty20 champions for the fourth time in five seasons.
The warm-up fixture for Bank Holiday Monday’s cup clash at the Marshfield Ground saw Richard Palmer’s side reign supreme as they battered lowly Settle by 48 runs.
Martin Davies top-scored for the hosts with 63, which included nine fours. Simon Gorton added 28 coming in at number six while Declan Fitzhenry added an unbeaten 26 as the hosts closed on 151.
The heavens threatened to open after the interval but the rain held off for Whalley to rip through the Settle reply and claim vital bonus points. Whalley pro Kamran Younas took 5-33 and Declan Fitzhenry added 3-64 as Settle chased a revised target of 137.
“It was a great performance,” said Palmer. “Our pro went early but we’ve managed to post a competitive score without him.
“We managed to get enough overs in to bowl them out and pick up the bonus points. They got to 60-odd for two wickets and were looking alright but we always had a measure of control over them. Once we made the break-through that was it.”
He added: “It was a good solid performance and the rain held off just long enough. The heavens opened literally two minutes after the finish.”
The victory saw Whalley close the gap on third place Barnoldswick to eight points with four games remaining, but Palmer will re-evaluate his targets after the double-header weekend. The Station Road side face away games against league leaders Baxenden on Saturday and Cherry Tree 24 hours later.
“We’ve caught up another couple of points but it’s slightly disappointing that Barnoldswick beat Read,” said Palmer. “But we’re only eight points behind now so we’ve just got to keep pressing.”
He added: “We’ve just got to focus on what we are doing. It’s out of our hands so we’ve just got to keep on winning and then fingers crossed we can climb a place.”
And once business has been dealt with in the league, Whalley will round the weekend off with a Twenty20 final. Triumph for Palmer’s men would be their fourth success in the competition in five years.
Palmer said: “We’ve got the 20/20 final on Monday at Settle. Hopefully people will turn up in their numbers and make it a great occasion. The support would be great and let’s hope we can make it four trophies in five years.
“The weekend match was like a dress rehearsal. We were paying close attention to their batting style so we learnt a lot about them and hopefully we’ve got the plans in place for the final.”