BAXENDEN’S players didn’t wait by their telephones to see how their main title rivals Great Harwood got on at the weekend - they turned up to watch them.
Championship hopefuls Bash made short work of Earby, celebrating a nine wicket win and then, after the early finish, they made their way to Edenfield to focus on league leaders Harwood.
And the Baxenden team were the ones celebrating as Allan Armer’s side suffered only their second league defeat of the season.
"About 12 of us left Earby and decided to go to watch Great Harwood at Edenfield," said Bash pro Will Purser.
"We had finished early and it was on my way home and so we thought we would go and boost the crowd.
"We were obviously the happier side after that."
Harwood’s gap over runners-up Baxenden has been closed to 10 points and, with a double header weekend ahead, it is a big time in the Ribblesdale League.
"I think it is only our second double header of the season and we have got to make sure we win both games - we know that’s what we need to do to keep the pressure on at the top," said Purser, a Lancashire second XI player.
"I know the lads at our club have been saying that Great Harwood haven’t won the league in more than 100 years and we have to hope they don’t last the pace again."
But Purser knows, rather than worry about Harwood, he needs to make sure his own side stay the pace - and don’t under-estimate reigning champions Blackburn Northern or Cherry Tree who they face this weekend.
"We thought we would beat Blackburn Northern when we played them earlier on in the season and we got beat so we know we have got to go out and give a performance in both games," he said. "But we are enjoying our cricket at the moment and have won eight games on the trot.
"I think, at the start of the season, we were a new side and were feeling the pressure but there hasn’t been as much pressure in recent weeks and we have been going out and getting the results.
"I think the difference from the start of the season is that we are playing as a team, playing a lot better and helping each other out."
Ex-England batsman Ian "Oscar" Austin has been the star in the last few weeks and now has 772 runs in all competitions - 573 in the league.
"He was struggling at first on the slower wickets but he has changed the way he bats," said Purser.
"He is also now opening the batting and it means, if there is anything loose, he will put it away.
"Earlier in the season, we seemed to take a while to get on with things but now we’re attacking straight away. But we can’t just be reliant on him - we need others to chip in."
Purser, 24, says he also took time to get used to the wickets in his first season as a professional in this league.
He has 40 so far and took a season’s best 6-34 on Saturday as bottom club Earby were skittled out for 84.
"I have learned quite a bit and started to bowl slower and am having a lot more overs - and it seems to be working at the moment," he said.
"I did miss four games with an injury but I still have a target of about 60 wickets. I don’t really mind as long as we win though."
But, while taking the wickets is his priority, he is also keen to show captain Mark Rishton that he has got what it takes with the bat.
"I haven’t got enough runs," said Purser, with 173 league runs and a high of 31 not out.
"I have told Rishy that I need to be batting higher up the order and I am determined to show him if I can get the chance. I have got a point to prove!"
HARWOOD found Edenfield’s pro Baber Naeem in top form in Saturday’s clash. The dangerous all-rounder blasted 124 - off 74 balls with 17 fours and two sixes - of their 211-6 before becoming one of Syed Shahabuddin’s five victims.
And the Edenfield paid man then took five wickets, including the prized one of opener Armer who had made a stunning 101 - with 11 boundaries and six sixes - as the leaders fell 34 runs short.
Harwood face mid-table Whalley tomorrow before they take on sixth placed Read looking to open up a gap at the top.
OSWALDTWISTLE Immanuel’s clash with Cherry Tree fell victim to the weather. They take on Ribblesdale Wanderers and Settle this weekend looking to move out of the bottom two.