IAN Austin will tell his Baxenden team-mates to hold their nerve when they bid to make a little piece of cricket history on Sunday.
The Lancashire legend hopes to captain his side to Ramsbottom Cup glory with a win over Clitheroe at Settle. Baxenden have never won the trophy in its present format – but are on course to take both the cup and the Ribblesdale League title.
Austin’s vast experience – he played one-day cricket for England, and was a member of their 1999 World Cup side – has played a key role in Bash’s push for success.
They have lost just one league game all season and are favourites to win their first championship since 1993. Bash are also favourites for the cup against a Clitheroe side lying next to bottom of the table.
But Austin insists his players must make sure they get the job done. He said: "Teams that do well are the teams who keep their composure when it matters. We mustn’t take anything for granted. We’ve done well so far, but we’ve won nothing yet.
"I expect a hard game against Clitheroe. Their league position doesn’t reflect the strength of their side."
The game has extra significance for Austin, who played for Clitheroe. He said: "My first cricket job was as a professional at Clitheroe in 1986, and we won the league and the cup during my time there.
"I still know a few people there, although I think most of them will be spectators on the sidelines watching their sons play!"
Austin, who turned 43 in May, has yet to decide whether he will continue at Baxenden for a third season. He said: "I will make my mind up at the end of the season. It’s all about how much I can contribute to the team, and how well I can stand up to the aches and pains. Mentally, I still feel about 23 – but physically I feel about 53!"