CHAMPIONS Rishton may be struggling at the wrong end of the table this season but they are hoping Saeed Anwar Junior will return to the club.
The Blackburn Road side have offered the Pakistani terms for next season as they want the 29-year-old to spend a third year with them.
Anwar has suffered both the highs and the lows of a Lancashire League season - winning a title last year and battling near the bottom this season.
But he has more than chipped in, scoring 1117 runs - with a high of 152 not out - and taken 40 wickets in a poor season for Rishton.
"We have offered him terms for next season and we are waiting to hear from him," said chairman Alan Craven.
"Despite being near the bottom, he has had a good season for us.
"He hasn’t taken as many wickets as he did last year but his batting has been excellent. You can’t fault him for that and he is good to watch."
Anwar has set his sights on Peter Sleep’s Rishton record of 1621 runs but it means he needs some big hits in the final nine games of the season.
"He could still do it. He needs a few hundreds but there is nothing to stop him, the way he is playing."
Anwar does need the rest of the team to support him, though, as they have struggled for runs in recent weeks.
"This season has been a shock for us," continued the chairman.
"We can’t put a finger on what has gone wrong as, on paper, we should have had a stronger team with the addition of Richard Rostron and Craig Smith.
"But we have had a couple of injuries and captain Andy Bartley has been working away and we have had to call on younger players who, perhaps, aren’t ready for the first team yet.
"It is just one of those things."
However Rishton are hoping to make a new addition to their side for the end of the campaign as they look towards 2009.
"Barry Hamilton has been recommended to us by Peter Sleep and he has pro-ed and played in the Central Lancashire League," added the chairman. "I think he played with Sleepy at Middleton.
"Barry has moved to Rishton and meets our criteria. He is due to play for us this weekend so we will see what happens."
It was another poor day’s batting for Rishton on Saturday as Anwar again was the only one to shine. He hit an unbeaten 54 with five boundaries and one six but his team-mates couldn’t get into double figures and they were bowled out for just 97 by Burnley.
Anwar then took three wickets along with John Seedle but it was comfortable for Burnley who have increased the gap over Rishton and left them languishing in the bottom two.
Rishton have a tough game on Sunday against in-form Lower-house who have moved up to third in the table and are poised to challenge for the top spot.
But Rishton could do Accrington a favour if they see off Lowerhouse.
David Ormerod’s side extended their lead at the top of the table to 21 points on Saturday - but it didn’t look like it was going to be their day against Bacup.
The Lanehead club had set a target of 119 with pro Roy Silva taking four wickets.
But Accrington’s top order suffered a collapse and, at 3-3, it looked dire for the table toppers - with even pro Silva falling for a rare duck.
However Graham Lloyd is Mr Dependable and his unbeaten 67 proved vital for Accrington as they chalked up another win.
They will need to be at their best on Sunday as they take on fourth placed Nelson.
Title chasing Rawtenstall must have thought the points were in the bag on Saturday in their clash with Enfield after they made a huge total of 241.
This was despite bowler Gary Brent continuing to increase his wicket tally as the Zimbabwean got another seven wickets to make it 31 in just seven games for the Dill Hall Lane side.
Mas Ahmed (58) and Craig Fergusson (58) then got Enfield off to a stunning start with a 139-opening partnership.
It still looked a big ask but then Brent hit a quick-fire 51 off just 33 balls to steer his side to a five wicket win. Enfield are looking for a top five spot and take on bottom club Colne on Sunday.
East Lancs sub pro Gareth Breeze swept away Church as he took seven wickets as the Blackburn Road side made just 112. Top scorer was skipper Phil Gilrane with 18.
A 58 from John Turner was the mainstay of the East Lancs innings as they took the points.
Church travel to beaten Worsley Cup finalists Todmorden.