Rivals Earby and Barnoldswick have high hopes ahead of new Ribblesdale Cricket League campaign

Barnoldswick captain Jonathan Beech (right)
Barnoldswick captain Jonathan Beech (right)

Earby skipper Luke Hipgrave is eyeing a promotion push from Section B of the Ribblesdale League this summer.

The Applegarth side open their campaign at Baxenden tomorrow, hoping to have new professional Ashen Bandara on board.

At the time of going to press, it was unsure whether the Sri Lankan would feature, with contingency plans in place for a sub-professional.

However, South African overseas amateur Girvacques De Jager arrived on Tuesday, and Hipgrave said: “We’re definitely looking at promotion this year.

“We had a good end to the season with Ryan Canning as sub-pro, and although he’s gone back to Ribblesdale Wanderers, we’re confident the pro and overseas amateur will do well – Girvacques has smashed it in New Zealand this winter.

“They’ll help take the pressure off Matt Nutter.”

Nutter was the club’s top runscorer last season with 425 runs at an average of 30.36.

Earby will be without Richard Craddock, with knee and back injuries, which Hipgrave admits is “a big loss”. but Martyn Windle has returned from Colne.

Barnoldswick will have similarly high hopes, having been relegated from Section A along with Baxenden, on the back of a washout on the final day of the season.

They welcome back Sri Lankan professional Chalana De Silva after a hugely-impressive debut season at Victory Park.

He hit 1,050 runs in all competitions – 927 of which came in the league – and claimed 77 wickets, 67 in the league, which made him the league’s leading wicket-taker by five from promoted Brinscall’s Sehan Weerasinghe.

They also welcome back Abdul Saddique, who was sidelined for a season with a knee injury, while Australian cricketer Jack Rietschel, from Stratford CC in Victoria, will climb on board as overseas amateur.

“I have a very good feeling about the coming season,” said captain Jonathan Beech. “We will be dissapointed if we do not achieve promotion and don’t take the Division B title.”

Barnoldswick open their campaign at Victory Park tomorrow against Feniscowles.