PAUL Houldsworth has backed his skipper Russell Whalley to be a record breaker in a tense final game of the Ribblesdale League season.
The captain made it to exactly 1000 runs on Sunday in the league - with only two English amateurs having previously done it. And the aim is now to get 1035 and break the league's amateur batting record.
"I am Russell's biggest fan. He is an awesome batsman but a terrible captain and I would like the captaincy off him next season!" joked Houldsworth who was a reluctant skipper in 1991.
"But I believe Russell can break the record - and it will be a fantastic achievement. Saying that, he reached exactly 1000 runs on Sunday and then he was out next ball!"
While Whalley has his own target, Harwood, after picking up 14 points over a double header weekend, still have an outside chance of clinching the Ribblesdale League title for the first time in more than 100 years.
They are five points behind leaders Barnoldswick with the pacesetters, Settle, Clitheroe and Harwood all with a chance of final day glory.
"We need a miracle and them all to slip up," admitted Houldsworth.
"But, saying that, Settle have a tough game against Read; Barnoldswick face Padiham and Clitheroe have perhaps the easiest game against Oswaldtwistle but it could go either way and we have got to keep hoping, with seven points up for grabs, that we can do it."
Houldsworth, though, is gutted that his side are not closer to the top three as they were 10 points clear at one stage but then had a bad couple of weeks, slipped off the chasing pack and never recovered.
"I think some of the players gave up too early," said Houldsworth. "We lost at Clitheroe and I think some players thought that was it. But we have thrown away silly points.
"It was like at Ossie the other week, we got the pro out but then couldn't get the rest of the side out and it meant we dropped two points which would have been important now. And we have done that a couple of times this season.
"It is like Earby, who we play on Saturday, we have lost our last three games to them.
"On paper, we should beat them but we haven't been doing it and that has been our downfall over the last few years. Perhaps we under-estimate teams and think we just have to turn up but it is not the case in this league.
"I think Russell was going to mess around with the batting order on Saturdaybut, because we are in with a chance, we are obviously going to take it seriously. We do need a miracle but you just never know."
Houldsworth has been disappointed with his own show this season despite he and Whalley being match-winners at various stages this season - although Allan Armer was the star with 91 and 93 in their wins over Blackburn Northern and Baxenden at the weekend.
"I have got 528 runs so far but, in the last two seasons,I reached 600 and 700. I regular get to 40 but haven't been getting the big scores and that has been disappointing," he said.
"I have taken 23 wickets though and am happy with that. I haven't bowled for a number of years, since I was captain. People said I was injured but I have felt okay to bowl.
"I didn't in the first nine games of this season then did and took five wickets and have picked up a few along the way since then. I haven't bowled that much recently though - that's why I want the captaincy!
"But overall, it has been such a frustrating season as we have people with the ability but we just haven't performed - and the title was there for the taking."
One Harwood player has promised to streak through the town centre if his side do win the league tomorrow so watch out!
Meanwhile, mid-table Baxenden suffered a double loss weekend. Skipper Dave Usher made an unbeaten 65 in their 23 run loss to Barnoldswick on Saturday while Mark Rishton's 52 wasn't enough against Harwood as they fell 101 runs short. They face Cherry Tree in their final game.
And bottom club Oswaldtwistle chalked up only their third win of the season thanks to victory over Cherry Tree. They lost to Edenfield on Saturday but 51 from Anthony Dignan and 55 from Ahmar Saeed steered them to a 30 run win on Sunday. Immanuel face title challengers Clitheroe.