How we use Cookies

Phil feels the pain despite breaking his batting record

CHURCH skipper Phil Sykes celebrated his highest score - despite playing on with a broken hand.

CHURCH skipper Phil Sykes celebrated his highest score - despite playing on with a broken hand.

The 38-year-old hit a staggering 129 which was the highest amateur innings at Blackburn Road since 1941 when Joe Harvey hit 138. But Sykes had to do it the hard way after he was hit on the hand by West Indian bowler Ottis Gibson.

"I was on about 80 when I took a blow and after that it was painful," admitted Sykes, who hit 13 fours and two sixes. I didn't realise I had broken it, I thought I had just bruised it, but every shot hurt after that. I couldn't grip with any power and it wasn't good!"

However, Sykes wasn't going to let it thwart him as he by-passed his previous highest innings of 116.

"It was my fourth century but it was my first for Church - the rest have been for Rishton - so I enjoyed it. It was a good batting wicket."

Sykes formed a 198-run opening partnership with Church's big-hitting pro Greg Mail.

The Australian has now reached the 1,000-run mark in all competitions and, with 815, is closing in on the club batting record for a professional of 1,250 league runs. This was set by Geoff Parker in 1990.

"It was good to support the pro," admitted Sykes. "We hadn't been doing it enough at the start of the season but the amateurs have been doing it more in recent weeks. Hopefully we have turned a corner for the second half of the season. We are only one win off the top six and the aim is now to establish ourselves in the top half of the table."

However, the Haslingden game was frustrating as, despite making the second highest total in limited overs cricket for the club of 282 - the highest was 286 in 1999 - amazingly Church lost.

Haslingden's pair of Graham Knowles and Mike Ingham put on an unbeaten 273 - a league record for any partnership.

"To be honest, I didn't feel safe on 282," said Sykes. "The way the wicket is at Haslingden, I knew they could knock off the runs especially with a player like Graham Knowles. And when our pro Greg said he couldn't bowl because he had hurt his back, I knew they could get there. But we can't be too disappointed."

Church bounced back with victory over Ramsbottom on Sunday without the injured Mail - Darwen pro Keith Semple came in as sub pro although Mail should be back on Sunday at Rawtenstall. But not Sykes who will have to get his broken hand back into shape. He did try to battle on against Ramsbottom but struggled and may be out for a month.

"I shouldn't have done that. The pro looked at my hand and told me to check it out'', he said. I went to the hospital on Monday morning and they told me it was broken. But I will be back before four weeks," laughed Sykes. "I am not a good spectator!"

He is even more eager to get his hand back in working order as he bids to break his own record for the season.

"I have got around 500 runs in the league and cup this summer. I got 680 at Rishton, that is my best, so I would like to beat that. That is why I can't stay out for four weeks. And he has the 10,000-run target in his sights. He has so far reached 8,815 in his career. That is in the back of my mind. I think I can do it - as long as I sort my hand out quickly."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist