CRICKET: PETER Sleep is praying for some good weather then professional Jermaine Lawson can hit top speed.
The West Indian fast bowler landed at Great Harwood recently with a huge reputation and can bowl at up to 97 miles per hour.
But the damp wickets are playing havoc with his bowling technique - although ex-Australian Test player Sleep is sure everyone will see the best of the speed king soon.
"He has asked me for extra blankets to keep warm because he is so cold," laughed Sleep. "He has been over here before with the West Indies Test side a couple of years ago but he is not used to League cricket and he is a bit shell-shocked with the weather - but he is getting used to it.
"We do need the weather to be a bit kinder to our bloke though then he can knock some heads off!
"He is bowling about 70 per cent at the moment and it still isn't too bad.
"I am shaking in my boots in the slips and hoping the batsman doesn't get a nick on it then I don't have to catch it at those speeds!
"But he is a good lad and is settling in and hopefully we will start to see the best of him over the next few weeks."
Harwood have been reliant on sub pros until the arrival of Lawson but are steadily climbing towards the top of the table.
Their five-run win over Ribblesdale Wanderers this weekend was a nail-biter but Sleep was the main man with a steady 69 in their 174-9.
His old Lancashire League foe Joe Scuderi threatened to upset Harwood as he made 92 but, in the end, they just fell narrowly short with Sleep, Paul Newton and Stuart Maher taking two wickets each.
And Sleep is now hoping to build on this as he finds his form.
"I had been coaching in Australia over the winter and came straight back into playing and it is only now I am starting to get back into it," said the veteran batsman. It has taken me a while to get my feet going but I feel like I am getting there now.
"We do though now need to put a run together of seven or eight wins to put the pressure on the teams above us. And when we play the big sides we have got to make sure we win. Harwood are a good team on paper but we just don't seem to do so well as a team - hopefully it will come together this season."
Harwood haven't won the league title since 1900 but have come close on a number of occasions.
It is the current teams' dream to finally get rid of that record but the title chase is wide open this season.
"Everyone in the top six or seven has a chance," said Sleep. "We have Blackburn Northern twice this weekend in the league and cup and they have just got their professional Devendar Bundela. He is a good batsman and that could make all the difference. Naeem Ashraf has also done well for them.
"But we need to beat these teams - we need to win the big games to make sure we have a chance and take points off the teams around us, starting this weekend."
BAXENDEN, though, found out Blackburn Northerns' strengths when they were knocked off the top of the league in a hard fought clash with the Pleckgate Road side last weekend.
Baxenden seemed on course for another win when they disposed of Northern for a gettable 130 - with Ashraf the star man with 73 - while Bash pro Jonathan Fielding took four wickets to make it 42 for the season.
But then Blackburn's Indian paid man Bundela made short work of the Bash batting order with five ducks in their line-up, a top score of just 17 and they fell 76 runs short. Baxenden have a Ramsbottom Cup clash at Barnoldswick on Sunday after tomorrow's league game with Whalley.
OSWALDTWISTLE IMMANUEL were part of a low scoring game with Clitheroe that could have swung either way. At 50 all out, Clitheroe must have thought the game was theirs but then Ahmer Saaed stepped forward and took a rapid 6-28, his best figures for the season. But it wasn't enough and Immanuel are still in the bottom two.
They also have it all to do in the Ramsbottom Cup. Their match at Cherry Tree was the only one of the four semi-finals to see significant play and it will carry on on Sunday. Cherry Tree made 225-4 with Ahmer Mirza amassing 86 while Immanuel's reply is 136-4 with pro Saeed on 59 before bad light stopped play. They take on Cherry Tree in a league clash tomorrow.