ENFIELD begin their hunt for a new professional after Martin van Jaarsveld signed for Northants.
The Dill Hall Lane side were hoping the South African big-hitter would be one of the few paid men in the Lancashire League to sign new terms for next summer. However, Northants have come in with a six-month contract and, after three influential seasons at Enfield, they have had to say goodbye to the 29-year-old.
It means Enfield now join most of the other clubs in the league - only Todmorden's Gyan Pandey has so far re-signed - in the hunt for a professional. However van Jaarsveld signed off in style, hitting an unbeaten 130 in their victory over his former club Lowerhouse which helped them to finish in joint fifth place.
"We are sorry to see him go," admitted chairman Geoff Dixon. "But it all happened so quickly. We had offered him terms but then Northants got in touch last week, he went to see them and now we have to wish him well. We are disappointed but he wants to play county cricket - that is his ambitions - and we have to respect that.
"He has been a model professional for us and is such a hard act to follow. He has got plenty of runs and wickets and is a true professional on and off the pitch. He has missed about six weeks this season when he was with the one-day South Africa squad. But he has still got around 900 runs and took nearly 50 wickets for us in 15 innings which is a tremendous achievement. We obviously missed him for half a season, otherwise we could have finished higher. He batted superbly on Sunday against Lowerhouse - it was good to watch and a nice send-off for him."
In fact, van Jaarsveld hit 895 league runs this summer - which included three centuries - 150 not out against Todmorden, 147 against champions East Lancs and then 130 against Lowerhouse. And this was despite playing seven matches for South Africa. The chairman admitted he watched van Jaarsveld compete for his country against England in June and July with a mixture of pride and disappointment that he wasn't turning out for Enfield.
"It was satisfying to watch him out there. And the likes of Andrew Hall who was at Rawtenstall and Jacques Rudolph who played at Lowerhouse last year. The South Africans and Australians all come over here to improve their game and the English wickets have certainly helped them. And I think Martin's bowling has improved since he was here. My personal point of view is that he should have been picked for the Test squad - he is good enough."
Enfield will miss the batsman who almost broke Conrad Hunte's 1959 league record of 1,437 runs in 1991. But he fell just short amassing 1,341 - 1,537 in all competitions. He also helped Enfield to second spot last season.
"He is difficult to replace but the work begins straight away in trying to do that," continued the chairman. "We have spent the last few winters having secured Martin's services but now it is time to look elsewhere. The work for next season starts now."
It is thought the other three Hyndburn clubs will be in the same position. Accrington, who finished the season in style with a double win weekend including a victory over rivals Rishton, are debating what to do about their pro Andre Seymore who finished top of the fielding averages with 18 catches.
"He has been a fantastic pro, he has been marvellous to handle and he has played all the games - which has been a bonus," said Accrington chairman Peter Barratt.
"He has got 1,235 wickets and 30 wickets - we have had a chat to him and should know more by November. He has been with us for two years now and it is down to economics, availability and our requirements now. We are a young side and, although we haven't done as well as we would have hoped, it is looking good for the future.
"Moshin Ahmed is only 20 and he has got over 500 runs, Graeme Sneddon hasn't played all the games and he has got around 250 and James Hayhurst has got plenty of runs and wickets It will be difficult finding a pro because of work permits, international commitments and money - it is a case of getting a name who could miss a few games or a less well-known pro who is an unknown quantity. We will see though."
Church, who enjoyed a double win weekend and finished 10th, were hoping to have Greg Mail back but it does depend on the back injury which forced him to leave Blackburn Road earlier than expected this summer.
Bottom club Rishton, after a torrid season, at least ended on a high. After equalling the 1991 record of Colne of 24 defeats in a season they chalked up a final-day victory over Colne - only their second of the season. It looks unlikely that pro Rob Nicol will return to their Blackburn Road.