Accrington skipper Jimmy Hayhurst admits that their new pro Ashar Zaidi is like having two bowlers in one.
The 2008 and 2009 champions got off to a winning start to their campaign at the expense of near neighbours Rishton.
And the Pakistan paid man starred with seven wickets on his debut on Sunday – although he couldn’t manage a run.
"He is a brilliant bowler as he bowls left arm medium pace but can change it to left arm off-spin so it’s like having two bowlers in one," said Hayhurst.
"He was made up with his seven wickets although wasn’t so happy with his duck – that was a bit of a shock for us as he has been scoring runs for fun in the friendlies."
Hayhurst admitted that the win over Rishton was more special as they had to do it without two of their regulars batsman, Graham Lloyd and David Ormerod.
Lloyd was having time off following the death of his wife through cancer but he is expected to be back this weekend.
Prolific bowler Ormerod had two operations on his knees over the winter and has been recuperating.
"It’s obviously hard for Graham but it will be great when he comes back," said the Accrington skipper.
"David says he feels great so he is back this weekend. The thing is with David he would bowl on one leg for us if he had to.
"They are two big misses so it was good to get the win without them. Paul Carroll had retired but we called him back for the opener. He took two wickets and did well but he rung me the next day to say that he couldn’t walk. He is 49 though!
"As a new captain, it is hard making the decisions but I took myself off and put Paul on and he took the wicket of Rishton’s pro with his first ball so it looked a good decision.
"Local derbies are always hard and it’s tricky when they are the opener but it’s just nice to get a win under our belts."
Rishton also have a new skipper in Jimmy Bibby and he top-scored with an unbeaten 45 while the Blackburn Road new pro Cameron Delport chipped in with 27 – including two sixes and three boundaries.
But the rest were single figures as Rishton only made 114.
Accrington’s Zaidi ripped through the order with 7-42 on his debut and Carroll claimed the other two scalps, including Delport in his first ball.
In reply Accrington openers Andrew Greenwood (37) and Simon Hanson (33) took the Thorneyholme Road side to 66 before the fall of the first wicket.
And, while Zaidi didn’t enjoy a good batting debut as he was out for a duck, Stuart Crabtree and Matt Wilson took Accrington past the target with seven wickets to spare. Garth Wyse took two wickets and Delport the other.
"Like everyone else I am tipping Ramsbottom for the title but you only have to look at the other year when Haslingden looked dead certs for the title but we kept going and managed to pull off a shock," added Hayhurst.
"Ramsbottom are strong and they have added to their squad but it doesn’t always work and we have to hope that it’s an open league and we can pull off another shock."
Rishton meanwhile face a tough game tomorrow with captain Bibby’s stag party meaning they will be without some regulars.
Meanwhile, a comprehensive defeat wasn't the start Craig Fergusson was looking for in his debut as Church skipper but some late-order hitting from his predecessors Andrew Bentley and Philip Gilrane at least earned three batting bonus points as the Ramsbottom bandwagon rolled on.
Church’s batting and fielding didn’t hit the heights as Ramsbottom captain Jon Fielding claimed a seven-wicket haul – it should have been eight but for wicket-keeper Andy Holt putting last man Sam Tucker down – after the Bell brothers made the most of let-offs to score more than 100 of their side’s runs between them.
The defending champions elected to bat and Ramsbottom had got to 31 before Levi Wolfenden cleaned up stand-in opener Tom Parton.
It was looking good when Bentley trapped Keith Webb soon aftter but David Bell was given a let-off at slip before he’d scored.
And, though Mohammed Jamil removed opposing pro Shanan Stewart for 10, Bell's brother Alex was also missed at slip, also on nought – misses that were to prove costly as the brothers patiently added 93 for the fourth wicket.
Church pro Saeed Anwar bamboozled a succession of middle order batsmen after Wolfenden got rid of David Bell for 43 but Alex held firm and went to his 50 with a six off the first ball of Wolfenden’s last over and ended up unbeaten on 64.
Anwar returned creditable figures off three for 49 and it would have been better but for the fielding slip-ups.
The Church reply never got going. Fergusson went bowled by Haslam and Fielding got through Wolfenden’s defence two balls later.
The killer blow came in Fielding’s next over though.
After Anwar drove the first ball for four, he shouldered arms to the next which removed the furniture and when Jamil went for 10 it was 37-4.
Nasser Hussain and Adam Greenwood rebuilt to some extent but Greenwood (18) and Phil Howard fell in successive deliveries to Fielding, who eventually ended Hussain’s vigil for a patient 24.
The two ex-Church captains had plenty of overs in which to push towards bonus points and a mixture of stout resistance and lusty hitting – Gilrane took three sixes off Ramsbottom debutant Tim Le Breton, Bentley hoisted Fielding for two maximums – steered the total to within 30 of the target before Fielding accounted for Bentley and narrowly missed out on making Tucker victim number eight.
Andy Hakin ended proceedings by unceremoniously bowling the Church wicket-keeper.
Enfield were celebrating a winning start to the new campaign after they comprehensively saw off the challenge of East Lancashire.
Stand-in captain Mas Ahmed, in Adam Bracewell’s absence, got his season off to a stunner with 93 while their new pro Werner Coetsee will also be impressed with his start at his new club with 67.
Other notable contribtions came from Aneeq Hassan (36) and a quick-fire 37 from Sagawat Hussain – on his Enfield debut after making the switch from Accrington – as they made a formidable 274-7.
For East¿Lancs, wickets fell at regular intervals and they were 4-61 with the total always looking too much. Coetsee took 6-42 to make it a good all-round debut for the South African paid man.