Accrington look likely to have a hat-trick of vital players missing for tomorrow’s Worsley Cup semi-final home clash with Church.
Their captain – and top amateur batsman – Graham Lloyd, best amateur bowler David Ormerod and former captain Jimmy Hayhurst are all away.
New skipper Lloyd will definitely miss out and joiner Hayhurst, who stepped down as captain last month to donate more time to his own business, is due back from his holidays tomorrow lunch-time.
Ormerod is holidaying in England but it’s believed he could also miss the clash.
Team manager Ian Wilson admitted it’s a hard task to recover from losing all three, as they all played a big part in Accrington’s double league success in 2008 and 2009 and their last Worsley Cup win in 2008.
Hayhurst, especially, has hit some form with 27 wickets in the Lancashire League this year – 11 of them have come in the last three games.
"Jimmy had a lot of pressure at work and found it difficult to balance it with the tough job of captaining a cricket club," said Wilson, whose son Matt will take over the captain’s duties tomorrow.
"It’s given him some breathing space and since then he’s put in a few terrific performances, which shows that maybe not worrying about other people and concentrating on his own game is best for himself and the team.
"He’s a good player, he’s a terrific team man and it’s great to see him in among the wickets but we will miss him tomorrow."
Accrington’s former England one-day international Lloyd has taken on the captaincy but he won’t have a say in the outcome of the cup’s final-four derby.
"For someone who’s played at the level he has for 15 years, it’s water off a duck’s back," Wilson added of Lloyd’s captaincy. "It’s no problem for him to take on the mantle of being captain.
"He’s got everyone’s respect and is still a very good cricketer.
"Matt Wilson and David Ormerod have also been captain over recent years so all the senior players get together and a have a chat."
Accrington will be hoping professional Ashar Zaidi – with 399 runs this season – can get into the groove and bear more of the pressure.
Tomorrow’s derby date means one Hyndburn side will be in the cup final next week and it is good for the area with three Hyndburn sides occupying the league’s top five places.
Enfield have replaced Lowerhouse as league leaders and just eight points separate fourth-placed Church and fifth-placed Accrington.
Rishton are enjoying a good season, currently joint-seventh with Haslingden.
"It’s great, it’s been a long time coming," said Wilson.
"We’ve all had our ups and downs over the last 15 years – probably more downs – and it’s nice for three of our teams to be up there having a say in how the season’s going to end up.
"We have some good local rivalries. We always enjoy playing Church, Enfield and Rishton, they’re always big games, and it’ll be even bigger tomorrow."
The winners will also host the final, which will be played next weekend against either East Lancs or Lowerhouse with the weather having already forced the semi-finals back.
"Semi-finals are always big games but there’s the extra sweetener of hosting the final," said Wilson.
"Our recent record’s been pretty dismal so to get to the semi-finals this year has been good for everybody at the club.
"It’s not just on the playing side, there’s a lot at stake for the club in general because the final would be a massive pay-day.
"If it’s good weather there’ll be an even bigger crowd so it’s a good chance for the club to make a few bob.
"We’re trying not to think about that because we’ve got a job to do tomorrow first, but it’s difficult with the final just one week after.
There’ll be a lot of preparation for whoever hosts the final so we do have one eye on that.
"There’s just the small matter of another team wanting to do the same as us.
"Church are a good side with good players but we think the same about ourselves.
"We’ve played some good sides recently and won so if we perform at our best then we’ve got a good chance."