RISHTON Cricket Club have made a profit again but they have lost out on their number one target as professional for 2003, Aussie starlet Cameron White.
The villagers had agreed terms with the 19-year-old Victorian leg-spinner, who has been hailed by some reputed judges as a likely successor to Shane Warne. But his state chiefs have insisted that he stays at home during the Australian winter for training and specialised coaching.
The trend for overseas provinces and states to protect their players is becoming another huge hazard for league clubs seeking quality pros, along with round-the-calendar international cricket, A Team tours and work permit problems which already provide formidable obstacles.
The days of top-notch international players - the Waughs, Holdings, Kapil Devs and Viv Richards of this world - having a season in the leagues while near the peak of their powers are sadly pretty much a thing of the past. But it's becoming almost as rare for a club to sign up a promising young talent without having to overcome a series of banana skins.
Disappointed Rishton committee man Rod Simpson said: "As The Observer correctly re-vealed, Cameron White was the man we had targeted. Everything seemed to be in place and we had sent a contract out to Cameron, who was keen to come, expecting it to be returned.
"But the powers that be at Victoria have said they don't want him coming over here to play during their off-season. It's very disappointing because he is highly-rated and a very exciting prospect.
"With losing Russell Whalley and Peter Sleep over the winter our choice of professional is obviously very important, it will take a top quality player to go close to filling the hole left by those two. So we won't be rushing into anything."
Sleep has returned to the professional ranks with Read while Whalley is to play as an amateur with Great Harwood.
Rishton made a profit of £1,217 on the cricket side for the year ended 30 September 2002 while the Social Club, which donated £6,650 in total to the Cricket Club, still made a small profit of £150.
Cricket gate receipts were down drastically from £4,260 in 2001 to £2,506 but in 2001 Rishton hosted a well-attended Inter-League Cup Final. Cricket subscriptions were down by £710 to £4,281.
Income from advertising was well up, however, from £460 to £1,355 and there were sundry donations of £3,682 as overall income fell from £27,576 to £24,502. Cricket wages were slightly up at £10,837 from £9,320 but Rishton made a decent saving from an unexpected quarter.
Professional's travelling expenses fell from £3,126 to £330 and Mr Simpson explained: "Last year we flew Clint Perren and his wife from Australia but this year Paul Adams was able to get a student air fare!" Overall, cricket expenses were trimmed from over £29,000 to £23,285.
In the Social Club accounts, bar takings were down from £105, 158 to £99, 751. Fruit machine profits also fell drastically, from £1,036 to £73. Social subscriptions and juke box income rose slightly.
Overall bar profits amounted to £41,808, the 42 per cent margin similar figure to that in 2001 when the profit was £44,092. Total Social Club income, before purchase of bar sales, was £112, 131 (£116,396). Wages and salaries on the Social side rose only slightly to £26,569 from £25,792.
Light, heat and water cost £4,025 as against £3,774 and there were donations to the Cricket Club of £4,750 and a further £1,900 from the Super 100 club draw. Total expenses for 2002 were £54,038 (£53,059)
The Social Club will hold its Annual General Meeting in the clubhouse on Thursday 13 February while the Cricket Club's AGM and players' presentation night will be held a week later.