IAN Austin is smiling through gritted teeth after his Baxenden side saw off champions Great Harwood on Saturday.
Ex-England batsman Austin - who has taken over as skipper this season - hit a vital 57 in Bash’s five wicket win in an early clash of the potential title contenders.
But he admits he is feeling the pain this week - and expects it to get worse with a double header and Lancashire Cup game this weekend.
"I am aching all over and can guarantee I will be in pain after three games this weekend," admitted the 43-year-old. "But it was good to win. I missed the first match of the season as I was on holiday in Turkey but was itching to play while I was there.
"They won that quite comfortably by all accounts and, this weekend against Harwood, everyone has chipped in which is what we want this season.
"There was plenty of banter on the field as both teams know each other well and there was a laugh and a joke at times.
"But we did well. When you play the champions early and win you think it was the best time to play them, if we had lost we might not."
Baxenden are, again, tipped for the top but have been nearly-rans for the last three seasons.
"We are tagged to be there or thereabouts again and quite rightly so," said Austin. "We have a decent side but we have had one of them for the last couple of years and then fallen by the wayside especially in the big games.
"But Saturday was a big game and we came through that so that was good for us and hopefully bodes well for the season."
Highly rated pro Baber Naeem wasn’t quite as dominant on the scorecard but Austin knows he will have a big influence.
"Baber has got nothing to prove. I hope he has got a new lease of life here as, no disrespect to his old club Edenfield but, if Baber didn’t produce they tended to lose a high amount of the games. Here we hopefully have match winners all over and can take some pressure off him.
"Two wins is the perfect start for us but I have got a bit of a selection headache now with players playing well - to go with the aching body!"
Bash were chasing 195 with Adam Street top scoring with an unbeaten 54 for Harwood.
Stuart Maher took 4-49 but Austin’s 57 led the chase while David Cronshaw and Ben Swindells held their nerve late on to see Baxenden through.
And Oswaldtwistle Immanuel celebrated an early win over one-game table topping Ribblesdale Wanderers.
Ossie set 158 with opener Daniel Metcalf making 59 and Nick Payne chipping in with 26 further down the order.
Then Andrew Metcalf, Joe Sipocz, Alamigir Anwar and stand-in skipper Gerard Metcalf got to work with the ball and saw Wanderers off with 28 runs to spare to give last season’s bottom club an early season boost.
HARWOOD’S PRO Raouf (Rufi) Akbar was due to arrive yesterday.