THE game of the weekend in the Ribblesdale Cricket League was at Ribchester Road, where Salesbury were hit for six on the final ball of the afternoon.
Earby’s Martin Kegg was the man who inflicted heartache on the locals, as he lifted a shot over the head of Salesbury skipper Jason Rawson and clear of the boundary to seal a dramatic one-wicket win.
It seemed as though the hosts had victory in the bag as they had the Applegarth club hanging on by a thread; nine wickets down and needing 15 runs for the win from the final over.
But under pressure, the visitors somehow pulled through with the final roll of the dice.
“We managed to contain them although they hit about 40 runs in five overs at one point,” said Rawson.
“We were going well, had nine of them down and they needed 15 off the last over to win it.
“Then it got down to the last ball and they needed six and they’ve launched it right over my head.
“It was a great game, a superb spectacle and one of those that are great to win but horrible to lose.”
Salesbury had set their opponents a tough total to match at 200-6.
Rawson’s was the first wicket down azs the hosts slumped on 13-1 but they mounted a spirited comeback with Will Cook (35) putting on 46 for the second wicket alongside James Watson (21).
Then professional Susantha Pradeep entered the fray, smashing 62 from as many balls and firing four fours and five sixes in the process.
On his exit the hosts were 150-4, seemingly more settled, as Peter Blackman added 38 to the total and Dan Chadwick accumulating an unbeaten 16.
“We got ourselves in to a great position with our score,” said Rawson.
“We were very impressive. Our batting was very strong but we were disappointed to get out to a full toss.
“We were probably about 20 runs short of what we could have had.”
Salesbury’s paid man then starred with the ball on his debut, taking 5-57 from an 18-over spell.
Pradeep also ousted Matthew Haines with a truly outstanding catch early in the innings as his class shone through.
Rawson added: “Our pro (Susantha Pradeep) played well and was supported well by the amateurs.
“It seems we’ve got a good pro on our hands.
“He looks like a 1,000 run a season man and hopefully he’ll take 60/70 wickets.
“He’s a real gem and it’s great to have him around the club.
“He’s taken a catch and it was probably the best catch I’ve ever seen when I’ve been playing cricket. He ran about 30 yards, took off through mid air, and has taken it behind his head. It was fantastic.”
But despite defeat Salesbury’s promising performance was rewarded with full bonus points which keeps them fifth in the table with 17 points from their opening two fixtures of the season.
Rawson said: “We took full bonus points from the game which keeps us up there but we’ve got a bit to work on in the field.
“We dropped their opener early on and dropped someone else further down the order. But we are enjoying it and looking forward to the challenge of going to Edenfield.”
Salesbury are away to the league leaders on Saturday and have been awarded with a bye in the opening round of the Ramsbottom Cup on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Read continue to march on as they overcame a stubborn Whalley side.
Martin Davies (28) and Lee Kearsley (58) were the stand-out performers in Whalley’s batting ranks as they hit a 173-9 total.
But it was Read’s strength in depth and desire that once again saw them through.
Professional Stuart Hornby scooped another five wickets while captain Warren Eastham and Jon Harvey had prolonged spells with the ball, and both were rewarded with two scalps.
Eastham said: “It was another great weekend for Stuart with five wickets.
“I got to have a bowl as well and Jon had another long spell (18 overs). We all got to have a go but Stuart looks like he’s going to have the ability to see off the tail.
“Whalley are a stubborn bunch who play as a unit. They value their wickets and they don’t like giving them away. But at the end of the day we just had a little bit too much for them.”
Hornby was ousted by opposite professional Kamran Younas without making any impression on the scorecard but Harvey (65) and Kyle O’Connor (52) did the business while Mohammed Jamal fired an unbeaten 29 to round off the victory.
“Kyle and Jon had great knocks and Jamal came in to finish the game off in style. Stuart has come predominantly for his bowling so anything we get from him with the bat is a bonus.
“It wasn’t too surprising because Kamran bowls a straight and tight line and he’s one of the best professionals in the league.
“But Kyle and Jon were exceptional and put us in a position to win the game.
“It was just a shame neither of them saw it through to the end because we’d rather not pile the pressure on those lower down in the order.
“I’m really pleased with the way things are going.”
Read face Clitheroe away on Saturday before challenging Cherry Tree in the Ramsbottom Cup on Sunday.
And Richard Palmer’s side host Padiham on Saturday before travelling to Edenfield in the cup on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ribblesdale Wanderers captain Ian Britcliffe will be happy to sacrifice an afternoon batting when his opening and middle-order batsmen perform so admirably.
Charlie Jackson patiently notched up 49 at the Arbories against Padiham alongside Alistair Marsh who got in to the swing of things hitting eight fours and three sixes on his way to 59.
David Howard fell two runs short of a deserved half-century and professional Muhammad Wajihuddin put together a confident knock of 61 from just 30 deliveries faced, including three fours and five sixes.
Martin Briggs (14) and John Rain (5) added the bits as the away side ended their innings on 249-6.
Chris Holt (38), captain John Bushell (40), Nesir Mehmood (47) and Steve Meehan (44) all hit decent totals for the hosts but Britcliffe’s men ensured scalps were taken at a regular rate.
Each of the four bowlers chipped in with Liam Nuttall, Britcliffe and Jackson taking two wickets apiece while Wajihuddin added three to cement a 10-run victory in a tight finish.
Wanderers host second place Baxenden in the league on Saturday before travelling to Oswaldtwistle Immanuel in the Ramsbottom Cup the following day.
Finally, reigning Ribblesdale Cricket League champions Clitheroe will be hoping to climb out of their sticky patch after opening the season with two defeats.
The latest result saw them thrown off the edge of The Cliffe by Great Harwood who romped to a 36-run victory.
Only Russell Whalley (19), Patrick Swanney (20) and Jonathan Crabtree (17) made any kind of impression on the scorecard for the hosts as they ended on a lowly 136.
Joshua Marquet starred with the ball taking 5-27 off 14 overs. Sub-pro Anwar Ul-Haq added two wickets while Jack Houldsworth, Andy Hutchins and Farouk Butt added one each.
But Syed Shahabuddin proved to be the difference, taking seven wickets as Clitheroe crashed out on 100.
The visitors were 23-4 before Naeem Ashraf (26) and Butt (20) added a bit more respectability to the score.
The Ribble Valley side will now host rivals Read on Saturday before entertaining Barnoldswick in the cup on Sunday.