BAXENDEN will go all out to win the Ribblesdale League title next season after snapping up "two big guns," said chairman John Irwin.
They have a new professional in Lancashire all-rounder Will Purser and are also celebrating getting the signature of Wisden’s Cricketer of the Year for 1999 Ian Austin as an amateur.
"Hopefully we will have a good side," said the chairman. "We finished third last year, second this year and so we are aiming for first next season.
"It is a coup to get Ian as he has plenty of class. I am a good friend of his and he always said he would like to finish his career as an amateur at Bash.
"He had a lot of clubs chasing him but he has decided to come to us.
"He will help as we are a young team and he will also coach the kids."
That’s the role Austin had been doing at St Anne’s over the last few seasons although he was still playing and the getting runs for the club.
"Oscar" has had a prolific career, making his debut for Lancashire League side Haslingden aged 15, then getting snapped up by Lancashire and enjoying an illustrious career there and was part of the England one-day side.
While Austin offers experience, Purser is a 24-year-old bowler who can also bat and has played for Lancashire.
"He has been playing for Bootle in the Liverpool League but has also played in the Central Lancashire League with Heywood," continued the chairman.
"He has come through the Lancashire Academy and we wanted a young and up-and-coming player. He has also done tours of Australia in the winter."
Purser will replace professional Jonathan Fielding, who helped Baxenden challenge for the title last season and reach the Ramsbottom Cup final.
Fielding got 106 wickets - the top wicket taker in the league - but has decided to return to Walshaw in the Bolton League, where he spent six seasons prior to joining Bash.
"Jonathan lives in Walshaw and has decided to go back there for family reasons,"added the chairman. "There are no bad feelings. He wasn’t sure whether he was staying or going but Walshaw is on his doorstep."
Baxenden, meanwhile, won’t be given last season’s league and cup double after Blackburn Northern were threatened with having the two titles taken off them.
Northern player Ajmal Mohammed was awaiting trial on a child rape charge and England and Wales Cricket Board rules state than anyone suspected of a criminal offence must be suspended from playing.
Mohammed - playing under the name Mohammed Arshad and wearing an electronic tag for Northern - scored a valuable late 15 runs for his side which helped them win the cup against Bash.
"I was not really interested in winning a title by default," said the Black Lane chairman. "If there was to be any punishment, we would have rather had a points deduction for next season but we want to win the title the right way."
RAMSBOTTOM FIRST ROUND CUP DRAW: Settle v Oswaldtwistle Imm; Padiham v Great Harwood; Whalley v Earby; Edenfield v Baxenden; Blackburn Northern v Read; Cherry Tree v Clitheroe.
Byes: Barnoldswick and Ribblesdale Wand