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Big guns ready to do battle for final place

CRICKET: RUSSELL Whalley says his side will feel no pressure as they go into their Castlemaine XXXX Ramsbottom Cup semi-final at holders Read.


RUSSELL Whalley says his side will feel no pressure as they go into their Castlemaine XXXX Ramsbottom Cup semi-final at holders Read.

Great Harwood's main aim this season is the cup competition after stuttering in the league early on.

But most people would tip league leaders Read for the cup - especially as they beat Harwood in the league earlier this season and also Harwood lost to Read in the cup final last year.

"We are just all looking forward to it as we having nothing to lose," said the big hitting captain about Sunday's clash.

"There is no pressure as they are the favourites. If they lose and Settle overtake them for the league title then they could end this season with nothing after being the favourites for both the league and cup.

"Our season could be over if we get knocked out of the cup but we know we can beat anyone on our day. And we are third in the league and would be quite happy with that now."

Whalley's former team-mate at Rishton Peter Sleep has been influential at Read this season as has pro Danny Law.

"Me and Peter were talking about it on the way to the Inter-League match on Sunday," said the captain. "The thing is they have to stop us - we are the underdogs and we will just keep going. We are a good batting side and you can get a four on Read with a mis-hit. It is a nice little ground and I think it will suit us. We are confident we can give them a decent game."

Read have lost captain Warren Eastham who is injured and Law was also touch and go with an injury. Whalley, meanwhile, has a full strength side.

"Liam Deasey is back while Allan Armer was missing last week as well. He went to Chester Zoo with his girlfriend to celebrate their fifth anniversary. The thing is he turned up to watch us at 5pm!"

The other semi-final is between title chasing Settle and bottom club Whalley with the latter, the surprise outfit.

"I quite fancy Whalley," said the Harwood captain. "Settle's pro is a good one with more than 50 wickets this season but he can only bowl 10 overs."

Harwood skipper Whalley is certainly in form after hitting 77 of his side's 125 after the lower order fell cheaply against Edenfield on Saturday.

Chris Ramsker had taken 5-35 to restrict Edenfield to 121 all out.

"Someone told me the amatuer record in the league was 1035 and I have 600 so far so the aim, with 10 league games left, is to beat that," said Whalley.

And he could make another dent in this when Harwood take on Earby at home tomorrow as they warm-up for the semi-final clash.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Andrew Metcalf was the star of the show for Oswaldtwistle Immanuel in their five wicket win over Padiham. The teenager took a staggering 8-21 including the prized scalp of pro Kashif Siddique for four - he had scored more than 800 runs in 10 previous innings.

Metcalf saw off four batsman for ducks with Kurt Smithson grabbing the other two as Padiham made just 50. Immanuel pro Raja Ali was hoping to get a big score but he finished unbeaten on 39 as Harwood used up just 14.2 overs.

But Baxenden were on the losing side at Earby. Skipper Dave Usher, returning from a hamstring injury, celebrated a half century in Baxenden's 132-9. But Earby captain Chris Walton made 51 - despite 3-44 from pro Jon Harvey - to steer his side to a six wicket win.

Immanuel will hope to keep climbing the table with a win at Clitheroe tomorrow while Baxenden are at home to Ribblesdale Wanderers.


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