GORDON Simpson may have been singing Andy Crook's praises but the Great Harwood pro is keeping tight-lipped about his impact at Cliffe Park.
Harwood skipper Simpson said he had been "delighted" with the Australian's contribution this season and that Crook had been "instrumental" in getting Harwood among the front runners in the Ribblesdale League. But the modest Crook refuses to get carried away by all the talk and he is keeping his feet on the ground as Harwood enter one of their biggest weekends of the season so far.
They have a local derby at home to Baxenden tomorrow as the third-placed side look to keep up their title challenge. And then their sights are set on the Ramsbottom Cup semi-final on Sunday.
They travel to Cherry Tree and Crook knows the pressure is on to perform. "It is nice to get praise but I am just getting on with my job," said Crook. But I do know how much this cup means at the club.
"That was the aim at the start of the season - to get to the semi-finals of the competition. It is a big game for us and we will expect to take a few supporters to Cherry Tree."
To add spice to the game, Cherry Tree are the current holders and they took the cup off Great Harwood who won it in 2001. "Cherry Tree are a good cup side but if we can get through to the final it will give us a major confidence boost going into the rest of the season."
Crook has done well with the bat - so far he reckons he has around 600 runs in all competitions - but he has been more pleased with his efforts with the ball.
"My bowling has come on a lot and the wickets have started to come - saying that it was Gordon who got the wickets at the weekend with seven! He did really well. I would obviously like to get a few more runs but there are plenty of batsmen in the team so it is more important that we bowl teams out."
The 22-year-old has been impressed with the performances of his team-mates. "Russell Whalley is quality, Allan Armer has got three 50s for us and Paul Houldsworth does well. Liam Deasey is also coming of age. It is a good team effort and that has been the key this season."
While the cup is the priority on Sunday, the league is the main aim for the season. Harwood haven't won the league title for more than 100 years.
"I have heard all about that," he said. "And it would be great to win the league. But it is just a case of taking it one game at a time and make sure we keep winning - we can't start looking too far into the future as we have to remain focussed."
Harwood boosted their bid for the title with victory over Settle thanks to the Simpson show on Saturday. In the 41st over, Settle were comfortable at 121-3 but in the next four overs and two balls they lost their remaining seven wickets for 10 runs.
During this spell, captain Simpson took five wickets without conceding a run including a hat-trick and Whalley chipped in with the other two.
Settle were dismissed for 131 and Whalley scored a crucial half-century to secure maximum points. Baxenden know they face a tough game at Great Harwood tomorrow but go into it on a high.
They enjoyed a six-wicket win over Earby. Liam Bones took 5-51 as Earby made 187. But professional Jon Harvey's 89 - against his old club - and Paul Usher's unbeaten 42 saw them through.
Oswaldtwistle Immanuel moved into ninth place thanks to their 71-run victory over struggling Padiham. Immanuel's paid man Wes Morrick made a big impression with the bat, hitting 56 in Ossie's 179-9, and then took 5-46 to dismiss Padiham for 108.
They will be looking to continue their good season when they welcome Cherry Tree to New Lane tomorrow.