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Battle to move away from the bottom

CRICKET: ACCRINGTON'S former skipper Damian Clarke admitted his side would be "suicidal'' if they took their results to heart.

ACCRINGTON'S former skipper Damian Clarke admitted his side would be "suicidal'' if they took their results to heart.

After finishing the last two Lancashire League seasons in the wooden spoon position, they are, at least, off the bottom thanks to two wins this season. But they are still struggling and, after being destroyed by nine-wicket man, Todmorden's pro Gyan Pandey, last weekend, they now face a home game against top-of-the-table Nelson and their in-form paid man Joe Scuderi.

"It will be another interesting one," admitted Clarke who gave up the captaincy a couple of weeks ago to concentrate on his own game. Thorneyholme Road pro Andre Seymore has taken over the role.

"We have been struggling near the bottom for a while but the lads can't get too down about it after every game or else they would be suicidal. When you come up against someone like Pandey it is hard. Obviously he bowled well and he was helped with a few shots but at least he didn't get the full 10."

Clarke was spared being a victim along with Steve Juliff.

"I was glad he didn't get me - I am always happy not to get out! But we can't concentrate on the other side's performance, we have to concentrate on our own and that is what is important. We have a young side - apart from Steve Juliff, who is 37, and myself, at 33, the team are in their early 20s and we have been throwing in a few youngsters to give them a taste of the first team. A couple of weeks ago we tried out 14-year-old Andrew Greenwood. It is good to give them a chance."

Paid man Seymore, in his second season at Accrington, is also hoping to step into top gear soon and move them up the table.

"It has helped that Andre is back for his second season as he doesn't have to take time getting used to us," said Clarke. "I think he would be the first to admit he should have got more runs but he did the same last season and soon got into his stride. But his bowling has improved and that has been a big bonus for us."

Injuries have continued to thwart Accrington with another addition to the casualty list. Paul Barratt, recently returned, hurting his hamstring during the Todmorden game to add to bowler James Hayhurst, wicketkeeper Zahir Afzal and Adam Barnes who have all suffered with injuries this season.

"We are hobbling about at the moment," joked Clarke. "But realistically if we can win a couple in the next four we can heading towards mid-table. Saying that though, it would have to be Nelson next…"

While Accrington are, to an extent, used to being at the wrong end of the table, it is a different matter for Rishton. The Blackburn Road side finished fourth last season and only need to look back to 1996 for the last time they won the league title. However this season has been a struggle for them and 10 matches into the campaign, they are desperate to pick up their first win. They travel to mid-table Lowerhouse on Sunday, hoping this will be their weekend.

Church will be trying to get the better of Pandey and co at Todmorden to close the gap on seventh-placed Burnley.

And Enfield, knocked off top spot last week after their loss to Nelson, will be looking to get up back among it with victory at Colne on Sunday.


Stuart Pike
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Alex Bell
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Jon Macpherson
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