GREAT Harwood opening bowler Stuart Hamer has enjoyed a mixed seson so far.
The 22-year-old celebrated his first ever hat-trick against Edenfield in the second game of the Veka Ribblesdale League season as Great Harwood set their stall out for the title.
However he then suffered another first - a double loss weekend as champions Read became hot favourites for the title.
But Harwood bounced back again this weekend with a Castlemaine XXXX Ramsbottom Cup victory over Clitheroe and will now meet Earby in the quarter-finals.
"I enjoyed the hat-trick," admitted Hamer who is studying law at Sheffield University. "It was my first and it is a once in a lifetime thing. You never know if it will come round again."
"I have been in the position a couple of times when I have been on the hat-trick ball but have always tried too hard but this one went exactly the same as the second one."
"I celebrated a bit - but I think my friends watching did a bit more celebrating!"
However joy soon turned to despair when Harwood, last season's runners-up, lost to Earby and Blackburn Northern in an early double header.
They were skittled out by Northern for just 73.
"They bowled so well and we could do nothing about any of the dismissals," said Hamer. "It was hard as I have never been involved in two defeats in a weekend."
With the two losses, Read took charge of the league and although it is far too soon to think that Read have the title sewn up, the cup is now a priority for Harwood.
They were the losing finalists last year against Read and are due to meet Read in the semi-finals this year if they, first, beat Earby.
And their cup form looks good after they overcame Clitheroe last weekend.
Skipper Russell Whalley hit 80 and pro Andy Crook made 63 as they passed Clitheroe's 174 with eight wickets to spare.
"It was more straightforward than we thought it would be," said the right arm quick bowler. "Russell, as always, played well and the pro was magnificent."
"By his own admission, he can bowl better but he has batted very well so far."
It was important Harwood found their form as they have a tough game against title contenders Ribblesdale Wanderers tomorrow.
"They have a good professional in Shahid Nawaz who has been there around six years," continued Hamer. "It is important to get him out as he is capable of getting a very big score but the amateurs do bat around him well."
And he still hopes Harwood can dent Read's title hopes - especially as they play them on 29 May. "They will lose at some point this season," he said. "They are a strong side but they are usually stronger when they bat second so we will be hoping to put them into bat."
"It is important to get the first four or five out as lower down the order they haven't had much chance to bat this season."
Baxenden joined them in the next round after pro Jon Harvey continued his good start to the season taking 6-9 runs as Edenfield were out for just 78. He then followed up with an unbeaten 53 for an easy nine wicket win.
They travel to Whalley in the next round while Oswaldtwistle Immanuel couldn't have a tougher prospect as, after a bye, they are at home to holders Read in the second stage.
This weekend, Baxenden travel to Padiham tomorrow while Oswaldtwistle's Indian pro Raja Ali will make his debut at home to Edenfield.