IT IS the battle of the big hitters at Dill Hall Lane on Sunday as top league run scorer Ruven Peiris faces Alviro Petersen, the man with the most runs in all competitions.
Title-chasing Church are up against local rivals Enfield who are looking to move out of the bottom three in the Musbury Fabrics Lancashire League
Sri Lankan pro Peiris currently tops the Lancashire League run scoring charts with 630 runs - two ahead of Accrington's Tama Canning. But South African Petersen took his tally in all competitions to more than 1000 runs with his 53 for Enfield against East Lancs on Sunday. He has hit three centuries and his top score is 149 for the Worsley Cup semi-finalists.
Church will be the favourites on Sunday after they closed the gap on leaders Bacup following their 19-run win over fellow title chasers Ramsbottom on Sunday. Bacup lost to Lowerhouse and now the gap is just five points as Church strive to win their first league title since 1962.
Pro Peiris admits it is all going to plan so far - but Church are not getting carried away.
"It is going well at the moment and it is fantastic. Everyone is happy at the club and the good thing is that we are playing as a team," said the 33-year-old. "But it is much to soon to say anything about the league title. There is a long way to go this season. It is just a case of taking it one game at a time. I just look at the next game."
And that is local rivals Enfield.
"Alviro is in form at the moment," continued the pro. "We beat them earlier on in the season but this will be a totally different game. They have improved and we need to get the pro out early. It is all set up to be a good game."
Church have a number of young players - the likes of Andy Bentley, Chris Maudsley, Phil Gilrane and Adam Greenwood - who have all benefited from the pro's careful instructions. But Peiris is playing his part down.
"We are a young team and the young players are keen to play cricket. They are wanting to play better and do better than they have over the last two years. I am trying to help them do this and they are learning how to win games this season and that is what we want. I am always looking to help players as we all want to do our best for the club together."
With his 630 total, Peiris could come close to breaking the club record of 1250 set in 1990. "I haven't really thought about that. I just want to do my best and get 1000 runs," added the pro.
Church enjoyed their victory on Sunday in a rain-affected day. For once, Peiris wasn't in the runs as he made just six but middle order batsman Adam Greenwood top scored with 36 and opener Phil Sykes made an important 25 in their 143-9 in the 33 overs.
Ramsbottom's sub pro Asif Mujtaba did well - he took 5-44 and then hit a half century - but Bentley, Nick Westwell and Peiris turned on the style with the ball to restrict them to 124. But it wasn't just about the bowlers as Maudsley and skipper Sykes produced some superb catches to boost their title bid.
Meanwhile Enfield also made it a hat-trick of wins over last season's champions East Lancs. They have defeated them once in the cup and now twice in the league - the latest a 13 run victory on Sunday. Petersen starred for Enfield with his 53 - with eight fours and two sixes - in their 168 all out. Kaz Shazad took 5-35 and Neil Holmes 4-43 to dispose of the faltering champions for 155 in the 48-over match.
It was a big boost following last week's agonising Worsley Cup semi-final defeat at Lowerhouse in the final over.
(Statistics from www.lancashireleague.com )