Luke Woodcock is benefiting from a smooth start to this Lancashire League season as he looks to take Church up the league table.
Last season, after visa problems, the New Zealander landed in England, was put in a cell at Heathrow airport and sent straight back home before finally arriving and being allowed to stay more than halfway through the campaign.
This time, due to the air chaos, he got to spend an extra week in a top hotel in Los Angeles and the less dramatic and more relaxed start to his second spell in the Lancashire League is certainly paying off.
The 28-year-old got a league best 96 - where Craig Fergusson got a ton - in Church’s win over Nelson as the pair struck up a 151--run partnerhip and he also took four wickets on Saturday.
Then on Sunday, Woodcock got another five scalps in one of his best spells in a Church shirt and chipped in with a vital 53 - this time helped by opener Ameer Mirza’s 69 - as Church saw off local rivals Rishton by nine wickets.
It has kick started Church’s campaign to finish in the top four with Woodcock the man in-form.
"I think he enjoyed his free week’s holiday in Los Angeles," said skipper Andrew Bentley. "He had a bad time last season and hadn’t played cricket for a few months as he waited to come over but this season, he has come to us on the back of a good campaign at home and you can tell.
"He has returned to us with a lot more confidence and we always knew what he was capable of and he is showing it straight away."
Fergusson has also returned to the club where he started his career and, after a century in a pre-season friendly, he followed up last week's 64 against Rawtenstall with his maiden league ton.
Fergusson stroked 17 boundaries and went to 50 off 88 balls, completing his century off 142 deliveries before falling with the total on 197.
The pair were largely untroubled against a dispirited all-amateur attack with Nelson pro Burton de Wett not arriving on time.
"Craig has done really well on his reutrn," said Bentley. "He and Ameer at the top of the order are giving us decent starts which Luke is benefiting from.
"Last season, Luke was coming in early on with just a few runs on the board but this season we have got more and that has helped Luke. We have played well all season but the rain hasn’t helped us in the previous three matches.
"Against Bacup we were 80-0 when it was rained off and we had batted well against Rawtenstall in our second game but we did not bowl well on the wet pitch.
"We didn’t perform against Enfield but we did last weekend and hopefully now we can put a run together and move up the table.
"It’s odd as all last season, every time we looked at the table we were eighth, and we are eighth again this season. Let’s hope we can move off it, get a few wins, gain more confidence and see what happens."
While Church enjoyed the double victory it was win one, lose one for the rest of the Hyndburn teams.
ENFIELD are till highest of the four sides, occupying fifth place in the table with Haslingden currentlysetting the pace.
The Dill Hall Laners slipped to a 52-run loss to East Lancs on Saturday with Zed Afzal taking six wickets but East Lancs opener David Pearson’s ton did the damage with his 100 off 166 balls as they made 221.
In reply, only Chris Maudsley (56), captain David Bracewell and pro Adam Bracewell got into double figures although their score looked better with a whopping 47 extras.
But they bounced back on Sunday with a 21-run win over Lowerhouse. Aneeq Hassan’s 61 provided the early impetus, supported by Fazal (35) and a quickfire unbeaten 45 from David Bracewell. It was a tense second innings as Lowerhouse closed in but bowlers Fazal, Afzal and Alex Blake held off their charge.
ACCRINGTON lost to one of early season pacesetters Burnley on Saturday although pro Will Driver is continuing to star with the bat.
The former Lancashire hitter has notched four half-tons before the weekend and added a fifth with his 65 after skipper David Ormerod had taken five wickets in Burnley’s 230-8.
Accrington, who had dropped a number of good chances, put on a good chase with Simon Hanson making 47 alongside Driver but finished 18 runs short.
On Sunday though bowler Damian Clarke rolled back the years with six wickets against Bacup. And Driver (46), Graham Lloyd (45) and an impressive 60 from wicketkeeper Matt Wilson helped them to a six wicket win.
And RISHTON were winners for the first time this season, seeing off bottom club Colne on Saturday.
Pro Andrea Agathagelou made his mark at Blackburn Road with a hat-trick in his six wicket haul as Colne slumped from 139-3 to 149 all out.
Skipper Craig Smith’s unbeaten 63 was the mainstay of the innings - which inluded 11 boundaries and one maximum - in a much-needed five wicket victory.
The day after though, they came a cropper against Church with Tiarnan Hamill’s 30 the top score after he built up a useful partnershhip with veteran John Seedle (37no) but they could only amass a modest 160-8 with Woodcock in control.
Church's reply got off to a whirlwind start with 70 coming off the first 10 overs and Fergusson, Mirza and in-form Woodcock saw them through with 18 overs to spare.