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Church race to the top of the league

CRICKET: NICK Westwell says he will enjoy this week as he looks at the top of the Musbury Fabrics Lancashire League table.

CELEBRATION . . . Accrington’s Damian Clarke against Rawtenstall
CELEBRATION . . . Accrington’s Damian Clarke against Rawtenstall

NICK Westwell says he will enjoy this week as he looks at the top of the Musbury Fabrics Lancashire League table.

Church are sitting pretty seven points clear at the top after their Sunday win over local rivals Enfield. The Blackburn Road side last won the league title in 1962 but, although there is buzz around the club, the players are refusing to get carried away.

"I will enjoy looking at the table this week and seeing us on top. It is a nice feeling," said bowler Westwell, who is the second leading amateur wicket taker in the league after his five against Enfield last Sunday took his tally to 42 for the season.

"Since I have been at the club, since 1975, we have been success-starved but now there is plenty of confidence there. I would have preferred us to be unfancied but it is nice to be at the top at any stage of the season.

"It it is so tight though. It is exciting with the top seven or eight teams playing each other and it could change every week. With ten games left, there is a long way to go. But we are playing as a team, everyone is chipping in. We have six youngsters and five older players and it is proving to be a good mix."

And Church know they have to keep turning in the performances as the travel to Todmorden on Sunday - who celebrated a 10 wicket win over then leaders Bacup last Sunday.

But the Church faithful are just enjoying the moment - especially after their 76-run win over Enfield, a team with pro Alviro Petersen in a great streak of form.

Church skipper Phil Sykes made 60 - including seven fours and a six - while Mark Aspin (45) and professional Ruven Peiris (43) helped in their massive 236-8. Peiris has now scored 673 runs this season and tops the league's run scoring charts. Aspin has 479 with Sykes not far behind on 469.

For once, South African Petersen wasn't at the crease for long as he was out for 12 and once the Church bowlers got into gear, Enfield didn't stand a chance. Peiris took 5-51 and Westwell 5-72 and, despite 49 from captain Mas Ahmed, they could only make 163.

Meanwhile Accrington slipped to a 62 run loss to Rawtenstall. They had a tough task as they chased 211-9 with Rawtenstall pro Andy Payne top scoring with 64. Damian Clarke took 4-57, Graeme Sneddon took a career best 3-21 and Zahir Afzal 2-63 as all the pressure was on the amateurs with pro Tama Canning suffering from a stomach complaint.

Accrington struggled in reply with Adam Wilson (four) and Canning (seven) soon back in the pavilion. Then Rawtenstall's prolific wicket taker Keith Roscoe got in on the act as he took 5-34 and he now needs just 15 more victims to amass 1000 Lancs League wickets.

Youngster Mohsin Ahmed hit a top score of 68 - with 11 boundaries - but the rest of the pack couldn't stay with him.

And Rishton were on the losing side against title chasing Haslingden. Opener Darren Eccles made 62 in their 149 helped with 28 from Mark Leathert. But, despite two wickets from Richard Rostron and one from Shaun Wyse, Haslingden ran out comfortable winners.

Accrington have a tough clash at home to title chasing Nelson on Sunday while Rishton visit one-time leaders and Worsley Cup finalists Lowerhouse. They are expected to finalise a pro on Friday.

  • FORMER Accrington all-rounder Brian Rutter will be one of the umpires at the Switch to Switch Electrical Worsley Cup final between Lowerhouse and Haslingden on Sunday 8 August.


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