ALLAN Armer won’t get caught up in any of the banter between title rivals Great Harwood and Baxenden and is just concentrating on the job in hand.
The Harwood skipper wants to steer his side to their first league title in more than 100 years but Baxenden - along with Padiham, Edenfield and Barnoldswick - are looking to topple Harwood off the top spot.
Armer says there are plenty of mind games being played - but he is staying calm.
"I have been in this position at the top of the league a number of times with Harwood - but we have never quite managed to stay there," said the captain.
"There are texts flying around from Mark Rishton and Ian Austin (at Baxenden) to Russell Whalley (Harwood) and back again but I just want to play cricket.
"I don’t get involved in any of that but it is all friendly banter and all good fun.
"There are nine games left and, if we get to the last four games and we are still on top, then it is in our hands.
"That’s because we have Barnoldswick, Padiham, Baxenden and Blackburn Northern in those four matches and they will be big games. Until then, though, we have got to keep going but what will be will be."
Harwood did suffer a wobble on Saturday as they lost to Whalley - their second defeat in three games and only their third league loss of the season. Whalley’s sub pro Ameer Khan was in outstanding form, taking eight wickets to see off Armer’s side.
But they had a lucky escape as they held onto top spot - and despite the loss even extended their lead by one point - as Baxenden were upset by their bogey side Blackburn Northern and Padiham also lost.
And Harwood then stayed in command with a victory against Read on Sunday.
"We were poor on Saturday," said the captain. "Whalley’s sub pro was in good form and Neil Cordingley and David O’Neill bowled well but three of us got ourselves out and that is disappointing.
"Our lower order, though, added a few runs which is something we haven’t done for the last few seasons.
"It was mixed emotions after the game as we learnt the other sides had lost but we had missed a great chance to extend our lead.
"Then, on Sunday, we started off well and were 80 without loss but we lost three quick wickets and were on 111 for a while. But again the lower order lads got some runs to take us to 184.
"As well as the pro, Shobby (Syed Shababuddin), who has been superb with 60-odd wickets, Stuart Maher has bowled well this season and Paul Newton has been excellent and they made sure it was a good win for us."
He admits, despite Oswaldtwistle being in the bottom two, nothing will be taken for granted when the two clash tomorrow in their derby.
"Everyone has their bogey side and Blackburn Northern seem to be Baxenden’s while we do struggle against Oswaldtwistle and at Earby for some reason so we won’t under-estimate any sides."
While there are big targets for the Cliffe Park club, Armer has personal aims as he looks to build on his 385 runs so far.
"I am pleased considering, at the start of the season, I was not really batting and we chased a number of low scores. I have got one 100 and then two or three 30s or 40s so I am looking for a 50, especially as I am now opening the batting.
"We shall just have to see what happens. I have never said we are the best side in the league - we believe we are one of the best - but we will not get carried away."
Harwood are up against Oswaldtwistle tomorrow who lost both their games in the double header weekend. They lost to Ribblesdale Wanderers on Saturday, despite 47 from teenager Daniel Metcalf and then to Settle on Sunday with dad Gerard grabbing 50.
Baxenden are jinxed against Blackburn Northern who pipped them in the league and cup last season and have have now done the double over them in the league. Mark Rishton’s side though kept second spot with victory over Cherry Tree on Sunday, with Dave Parkinson top scoring with 67 and Ian Austin taking five wickets. They face Clitheroe tomorrow.