NO CRICKET teams like the rain - but Great Harwood might have appreciated the wet weather which stopped the clash between their title challengers Barnoldswick and Baxenden.
Leaders Harwood took part in one of just four games that finished last weekend and an easy victory over Clitheroe gave them a bit of breathing space from that chasing pair.
However Padiham made sure Harwood didn’t have it all their own way as they won their clash against defending champions Blackburn Northern and moved into second spot in the league.
Harwood picked up 10 points and Padiham 12 while Barnoldswick and Baxenden dropped down to third and fourth spot after collecting just three points each for an abandoned game.
It left a bitter taste in Bash captain Mark Rishton’s mouth although he has the chance to get one over Barnoldswick tomorrow and move back towards the top in a hasty return fixture.
"It is like deja vu from last season really as then, there was us and Blackburn Northern going for the title and they played and we didn’t and they closed the gap on us and got an advantage," said the skipper.
"But there is nothing you can do about it and you know that, until the rules change and we have replays, that the weather is going to play a big part in the season.
"It is at home tomorrow and hopefully our game will be on but Barnoldswick are probably the surprise package of the season after finishing bottom last year and you could tell they were really up for it last weekend.
"They did everything they could to get the game on and by 2.30pm we were ready to start after a lot of work. But then there was a mighty downpour which meant it was off.
"You always fear the worst that other teams will play and that proved the case. But we just have to hope it evens itself out throughout the season - although it doesn’t always."
Baxenden hope to have professional Will Purser back after a hip injury.
He has missed the last couple of games although they could call on Rishton paid man Saeed Anwar Junior again if Purser doesn’t make it.
"We will be testing Will’s fitness this week and hoping he comes through unscathed but we have noticed Rishton don’t play tomorrow just in case. We hope Saaed will come to us again after not playing last week.
"We also have Dave Parkinson back from a hamstring injury so hopefully we will be at full strength and we can carry on our unbeaten run."
This weekend marks the start of the second half of the season and, although Harwood are in charge at the moment, the Baxenden skipper knows it counts for nothing.
Bash were in a two-way race for the title last season with Blackburn Northern - and had a decent gap at the top at one point - but missed out in the final weeks of the season.
"There are probably four teams still in it. Great Harwood are going through a really good patch at the moment as they have only lost one league game - and that was to us.
"They do not look like slipping up as they seem to be winning games comfortably but we were in a similar position last season and slipped up.
"All we can do is keep winning our games and keep the pressure on and hope that, in the big games, they lose a couple. We have just to keep going."
HARWOOD had no trouble seeing off Clitheroe by 10 wickets. The only blot was that they didn’t bowl Clitheroe out and get the extra bowling points.
Clitheroe made 95-9 and Harwood had a revised target of 80 which they passed with ease. The two meet again tomorrow at Cliffe Park.
OSWALDTWISTLE Immanuel were looking for their third league victory of the season and although their game started against bottom club Earby, it didn’t finish. Ossy were 71-6 when the heavens opened and the match was over.
RIBBLESDALE Wanderers will face either Settle or Padiham in the Ramsbottom Cup final.