Rishton skipper Jimmy Bibby is giving up cricket after this season – but says he hasn’t done bad for a ‘journeyman’ cricketer!
Bibby has three Lancashire League title winning medals in the bag after the Blackburn Road side finished top in 1995, 1996 and 2007 and also a Twenty20 trophy from 2006.
Bibby’s wife Rebecca is due to give birth in February and , at 39, he has decided to give Rishton cricket up – although he hasn’t ruled out helping them out if needed next season.
"My intention is not to play next year with my wife due to give birth in February.
"However I’d never see Rishton stuck and I know I’ll end up playing some games.
"It was a hard decision but I have been captain for two years and there are a lot of commitments to go with it and sometimes a defeat can ruin your week as you take it home.
"As a club we probably haven’t developed juniors like other clubs have and, when they are losing and the first team are winning it doesn’t seem so bad but when the first team are losing it brings the mood down around the club and, as captain, you take it on your shoulders.
"It is tinged with sadness and I guess relief that I am giving amateur cricket at Rishton up as, I am nearing 40 and my back is killing me!
"I will still play for Excel in a more relaxed atmosphere. That’s my intention anyway."
Not that there are any regrets in this three-title winning career and a Twenty20 success.
Bibby, whose vice captain is Shaun Wyse, has been a one-club man except for a two-year spell in Shropshire.
"I think I have done okay! I was in the airforce for six years when I was younger and I got to play cricket in Sri Lanka, South Africa and Singapore so I have got to play in different countries, in different conditions and I count myself very lucky for having that chance.
"Then, even though I have been a journeyman cricketer and never been the best, I have been lucky enough to win three league titles.
"You look at some of the Church players who are being called unlucky losers at the moment as they have come so close to winning things but haven’t made it in recent years and I do feel privileged to have played in teams which have won.
"My only spell away from Rishton, apart from being in the airforce, was when I played for Shifnal in 1993 and 1994 in Shropshire. We finished as runners up in 93. It was with them I scored my only first team hundred and my career best score 112 not out v Whitchurch. Ironically we lost!"
Bibby, who made his debut for Rishton at just 14 in 1987, admitted his most precious league win was in 2007 with Saeed Anwar as professional – he is now Church’s paid man.
"That one sticks with me as we went at it from day one. I remember former cricketers, other clubs and some of the press weren’t even tipping us to win a game that season and Andy Bartley, our captain then, made all this known at the start of the season and we became very insular as a team and it acted as a spur to us.
"We got on a roll and won the first nine games and I know people said the rain helped us but it also hindered us like everyone else as there was a break due to the weather, we had a massive lead and then we had to hold on.
"We were hanging on at the end and it did get jittery but we wanted to prove everyone wrong and we did. That was special."
But he still hasn’t got over his worst memory even years later.
"My one regret is never getting to a Worsley Cup Final. I got close but that infamous last ball six off Kumar Dharmasena at Todmorden in 2005 prevented it from happening.
"I’ll be honest I thought we’d won and I was thinking how I was going to celebrate and that’s probably the lowest I’ve ever felt after a game.
"Nobody spoke in the dressing room, we were all just gutted. Greavsie (Scott Greaves) and I try to joke about it, but even now it still hurts."
Asked about the best pro he has played alongside and he admits it’s tricky.
"I think it was Sleepy (Peter Sleep) when he first came to Rishton in 1990 in terms of what he gave to the club. I just looked at him play and thought he was awesome. There are a lot of good ones for different reasons but Sleepy sticks out.
"He made me a better cricketer and made me think about how to play the game in a different but better way.
"The best amateur cricketers I’ve ever played with were Craig Smith for Rishton and Glynn Lumb with the RAF and Shifnal. Glynn was an awesome batter and a magnificent fielder and Craig was great to watch particularly in those record breaking years he had in the 90s.
"Against, one of the best professionals would be Church’s Geoff Parker in 1990. He was just brilliant."
Somewhat ironically his final game, if he does call it a day fully at the end of this season, will be against Rawtenstall – against who he made his debut.
"I made my debut 23 years ago and a young Keith Roscoe got me out for nine that day.
"I think Keith always knows he will get me out –I seem to be a banker for him – but it’s just a case of how many he allows me to get first!"
While Bibby admits Rishton have been struggling since that title win, he thinks they have found a gem in Australian pro Daniel Salpietro.
"Dan has been brilliant for us. We didn’t bring anyone in in the summer and again were tipped to struggle but we’ve only been well-beaten twice this season and we have lost in the last over four times – that’s been our problem not winning the close games – but we have done well.
"There is no decision as to whether Dan will re-sign – we have offered him terms but he has asked if he can go home and let us know.
"I think his immediate future back home needs to be sorted primarily before he commits to another summer in England.
"We fully understand given what he has told me and the club seem happy to wait."
Bibby added in typical self-depreciating sytle: "All in all I’ve loved playing cricket and I look back on some great memories and the friends I have made have made it even more special.
"I know I am going to miss it, I just wish I was ten years younger then I could really annoy Salpie and download his cricket brain. You know it’s time to give up when you are old enough to be the pro’s dad but he has information you need!"