It might not have been the best start to the defence of Accrington’s Lancashire League title but skipper David Ormerod is pleased with what he has seen so far.
The Thorneyholme Road side have lost narrowly in the Colne Trophy to Worsley Cup holders Ramsbottom and then lost their league opener to Todmorden.
But the captain has seen enough to convince him that his side can go for a third successive league title, emulating what he did at Bacup at the turn of the millennium.
"It’s a marathon not a sprint so they say and so far I have been impressed," said Ormerod, with his Accrington side attending body pump and spinning sessions all over winter to get them fit.
"While we are disappointed with the result the guys have done superbly and we have shown good fighting spirit.
"Graham Lloyd had a good innings against Ramsbottom and Simon Hanson scored his maiden 50 against Todmorden, who will be up there challenging for the title, so there is no need to be too hard on ourselves.
"Both defeats have had big silver linings and it is only early days.
"I think in a season you can lose six or seven league games and there is no need for us to worry."
Accrington have a new pro in Will Driver who has got an 83 and a half century so far and Ormerod has been impressed.
"Will is a great lad. He is good friends with Simon Hanson and a few of the other lads and goes out socialising with them but once he is on the cricket field that’s it – he is Accrington’s professional and that’s his full focus.
"He takes it all very seriously and we know he will get the wickets and the runs and he is a great help to me as, even at his young age of 21, he has been a captain and has good experience.
"I am glad Paul Carroll and Graham Lloyd are still playing or else I would feel really old!"
It’s a double header this weekend against Nelson and local rivals Rishton with Accrington looking to get off the mark.
Ormerod continued: "Against Todmorden we were undone by a good innings from Simon Newbitt but hopefully we can get the wins and kickstart our season this weekend.
"I suppose on paper these are games we should win with both Nelson and Rishton losing players and currently going through a rebuilding process.
"I have a lot of respect for (Rishton captain) Craig Smith though, and I know both sides will make it difficult for us. I just hope we can show the same fighting spirit and positive attitude we have shown so far."
In the league opener for Accrington it was a shortened but big-hitting game against Todmorden.
The hosts decided to field on winning the toss and with rain clouds hovering the visitors didn’t hang about.
And Hanson notched his maiden half-century with 65 not out that included nine fours in 65 balls.
Driver also had his eye in quickly and smashed six fours and a six before he was dismissed just after reaching his half-century off just 32 balls.
The innings closed after 23 overs and Todmorden’s adjusted target was 150 from 22 overs.
And then the big innings by Newbitt took the hosts past their target with nearly two overs to spare.
Newbitt hit an unbeaten 89 runs that included nine fours and four sixes.
And he shared a 50-run second-wicket partnership with sub pro Mandla Mashimbyi, who scored 34 before he was caught by Lloyd off the bowling of Ormerod, who finished with 2-54 off 10 overs.
There was an exciting finish at Dill Hall Lane with the Enfield and Rawtenstall game ending up as a tie with the visitors needing six to win from the last over of a 38-over game.
Rawtenstall took four from the first five balls and then Andy Riley mowed at the last but missed and Enfield thought they had won.
But the umpire called a wide to level the scores and Rawtenstall missed the chance to claim victory when Riley was caught by Joe Wrigley at backward square leg off the last ball.
Rawtenstall had won the toss and fielded and sub pro Bilal Khilji took six wickets for 42 runs as the hosts were bowled out for 147 runs.
Enfield’s top scorer was Aneeq Hassan, who capped a fine debut with 72 from 91 balls that included eight fours and a six. And returning Liam Jackson, who notched 30, also bolstered the home total of 147.
Rawtenstall’s reply was built on the back of 55 from from Andrew Clough with Enfield’s Simon O’Loughlin taking 5-36 and Jackson claiming three wickets for 36.
Church’s start to the new campaign stalled in the blocks with their game at Bacup washed out after only 17.3 overs. But it was a decent warm-up for new Church opener Ammer Mirza, who was 48 not out when the rain ended the contest.
Meanwhile, Rishton’s nemesis against Lowerhouse was Jonathan Finch, who took 6-38 after the hosts were put into bat.
Rishton’s top scorers were new pro Andrea Agathagelou, who notched 34 closely followed by skipper Craig Smith (33) and Tiarnan Hamill, who scored 31 in a total of 135-8 that closed after 44 overs.
But a fine 55 from Lowerhouse’s Ben Heap soon made serious inroads into the total and the writing was soon on the wall for the hosts, who eventually went down to a six-wicket loss in the 36th over.
Rishton’s Shaun Hutchinson was best with the ball and took 2-30 from eight overs.