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Schoolboy Irwin in derby debut

BAXENDEN youngster Andy Irwin will be making his senior debut tomorrow - aged just 15.

BAXENDEN youngster Andy Irwin will be making his senior debut tomorrow - aged just 15.

And the All Saints pupil will begin his first team life with a tough game - a local derby at Great Harwood.

"We are trying to blood some youngsters between now and the end of the season," said Baxenden's new skipper Dave Usher who has taken over from Kevin Jelley who had to step down because of work commitments.

"Andy has done really well in the second eleven, he is a good batsman and fielder and he trains with the senior team so he won't be overawed. He is as keen as mustard. He is probably one of our youngest ever senior players."

Irwin comes in for the skipper who injured his hamstring and will be forced to sit out a game in which history favours a home win.

"I think in the eight seasons I have been at Baxenden we have only won once at Great Harwood," said Usher, who has also captained at Bacup and Woodbank and has been a pro at Back Lane.

"Harwood have been a bit hit and miss this season but are an attacking side who play the game the right way and are capable of getting a big score. We are a young side and now we are looking towards a mid-table position."

"We won ten league games last season and have won five so far at the half way stage so if we can match that again, that will be okay."

As well as Andy Irwin, Baxenden have Danny Hothersall (18), Callum Waddington (16) and Gary Sudworth (16) coming through the ranks. "We are hoping to get these used to the senior league and then hopefully have a good season next season," added the captain.

The Back Lane side enjoyed a mixed weekend in the double header.

On Saturday, they were the 34-run victors over bottom club Whalley - the side who had defeated them in the Ramsbottom Cup quarter-finals the week before.

Baxenden didn't set a big target, making just 102 with the captain top scoring with 18. However his brother Peter and pro Jon Harvey shared five wickets apiece to give them an important victory to move them up the league.

The day after, however, they were undone by Cherry Tree. Despite three wickets each from Harvey and James Capstick, Cherry Tree made 184-8. "We thought it was gettable," said Usher. "But they did have the best of the wicket - and it all changed when our pro was out second ball."

Harvey was out for a duck to make it an uphill struggle for Baxenden. David Usher (28) and Hothersall (25) tried to take the score along but they fell 61 runs short.

And it was a bad weekend for Oswaldtwistle Immanuel who suffered a double loss.

Gerald Metcalf helped himself to 5-32 but Earby made 131-9 on Saturday. Pro Raja Ali was out for five and Paul Dignan top scored with only 19 as they lost by 60 runs.

And on Sunday, the young side again couldn't cope with the chase against Ribblesdale Wanderers after they had amassed 210-8.

Indian pro Ali made 33 but it was 17-year-old Andy Metcalf who battled hard. He made an unbeaten 59 with four sixes and three fours off just 62 balls but no one could stay with him and Ossie fell short.

Immanuel have a huge game at home to leaders Read tomorrow who suffered a double loss weekend - their first defeats of the season.

Meanwhile, Great Harwood's Andy Crook made a stunning unbeaten 113 - but was still on the losing side against Barnoldswick on Sunday.

Captain Russell Whalley also made 60 and Paul Houldsworth 59 in their mammoth 275-3.

That would normally win any game but Barnoldswick's high-scoring pro Kulatunga didn't let his side down.

He made 148 - although he was dropped three times. They won on run-rate as they completed 43 overs.

But it was better news on Saturday as Harwood beat Cherry Tree in a reduced 35 overs match to keep in the top four. Whalley didn't enjoy it though as he was out first ball but Crook and Houldsworth worked well together in Harwood's 176-7.

Crook then took 4-15 as Cherry Tree made just 120 but the last pair held out to deny Harwood maximum points.


Stuart Pike
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Alex Bell
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