BAXENDEN opener Dave Parkinson has set his sights on banishing a decisive dropped catch in last year’s Ramsbottom Cup final to the history books, ahead of the quarter-final visit of Read.
Parkinson spilled a sharp chance at slip to win the game as Blackburn Northern eked out a one-wicket win in last year’s final, but in-form Bash are looking to go one better this year.
They warmed up for their last eight clash in perfect fashion, despatching Sunday’s opponents by five wickets at Read last weekend for a fourth straight Veka Senior League victory.
The day before that they will chase victory over Padiham, looking to close in on one of the top two, who meet in a table-topping clash at Barnoldswick.
Of the final, Parkinson recalled: "They needed 11 to win off the last wicket and managed to get it. They hit a six and a couple of ones to win the match and I dropped a catch at slip to win the cup.
"It was a sharp one but on another day and against another team I would have caught it."
Parkinson still believes leaders Great Harwood are the team to beat this season, even though Mark Rishton’s men recently smashed Harwood’s unbeaten league start with pro Will Purser and former England all-rounder Ian Austin knocking them over for just 47.
He said: "They’ve got a strong side and a good pro and it’s a case of grabbing on to their coat-tails. When we beat them it was just one of those games where everything clicked. Barnoldswick have surprised me a lot to be honest."
Parkinson attributed the Bash revival to the welcome return to form with the bat of Callum Waddington and Rishton, as well as the team’s star name bowlers.
Miserly Austin took one wicket and conceded just five runs in a remorseless eight over spell at Read, while Purser and Gary Sudworth profited with three wickets apiece.
On a difficult wicket, Baxenden’s reply was solid with Parkinson (29) and Rishton (29 not out) well supported by Simon Payne, who chipped in with an important 23 to carry them past their 130 target.
"Ian Austin is sensational," he said. "I’m stood at first slip watching him bowl and he just puts the ball in the same spot every ball.
"He’s very difficult to score off and he is even bowling the odd unplayable ball at the moment. Will is finding his feet as the tracks have got harder.
"He’s getting it through a lot harder now and he’s rushing batsmen and taking wickets."
He added: "Our skipper has got his form back this season. I think he's got two or three fifties already and I think he's concentrating more on his batting than his captaincy. He's doing very well.
"I started off well with the bat and had a bit of a lull but I’ve come back to a bit of form. My thirty on Saturday wasn’t bad on that wicket. And Callum is starting to get his form back after struggling earlier in the season.
"We’re flying at the moment. The league is our main priority but we’ve got five strong bowlers so we’re well geared up for the cup competition as well."
Despite posting a modest 150, Harwood comfortably returned to winning ways with a 35-run victory over Padiham, with Paul Houldsworth (3-22) and Paul Newton (4-37) probably the pick of their attack.
But Oswaldtwistle Immanuel were well beaten on run rate by Whalley, despite a cultured unbeaten 47 from 15-year-old Daniel Metcalf out of the home side’s 137-7. On Saturday they travel to Read.