CHURCH captain Phil Sykes knows the club face a tough winter trying to find a replacement for their highly-regarded pro Ruvin Peiris.
The Sri Lankan and the club have announced they will part company in September which will mark the end of a four year association between the two.
Both Peiris and the club have decided the time is right to move on and the 36-year-old will be missed after becoming a big hit at Blackburn Road.
"Whoever comes in will have a hard act to follow," said skipper Sykes.
"He has been a really excellent professional with 1000 runs and 50 wickets every season and it will be hard to get a professional who can come in and do that.
"It wasn't a total bolt out of the blue and obviously we are going to have to sit down and try and get someone again of Ruvin's calibre.
"He has been a model professional since he has been here - he is there at the start and the finish of every season; he turns up to every Tuesday and Thursday training session and he is easy to captain because he is so conscious of the team as a whole.
"Because of all this, he is in demand as a professional and we have been in a fortunate position to have him here for so long.
"But now we have to concentrate on replacing him. It was a mutual parting - it is all amicable and we will miss him."
Since Peiris landed at Church from the Central Lancashire League he has certainly made his mark.
In 2004, Church almost clinched their first title since 1962 only losing out on the final day of the season as Haslingden were crowned champions.
But Peiris could still celebrate as he broke the club batting record with 1295 runs and scored a record breaking 172 not out against East Lancs.
Church never reached those dizzy heights again but, over the three seasons 2004-6, Peiris has scored 3806 league and cup runs and taken 160 wickets.
"He has eight centuries to his name, more than any other player in the history of the club," said chairman Don Holt.
"Ruvin has been a consistent professional, with an exemplary attitude. He is, in all respects, a model player for any club. We wish him every success in the future."
Peiris will be disappointed if he leaves Blackburn Road with Church struggling at the wrong end of the table.
They could never emulate the success of that first year and they now lie second from bottom of the table.
But Sykes still has hopes they can start to climb the table and Peiris can finish with a flurry.
The Sri Lankan has 358 runs and 40 wickets in the rain-affected campaign.
"It has been a disappointing season for us but we are a very young side and we are developing," said Sykes. "We hope we can reap the rewards in future years.
"We hadn't been able to play with a full team but we have in recent games and we have improved.
"We fancy the chances of catching some of the teams above us, who were tipped by some at the start of the season to be challenging for the league title, like Nelson and Haslingden.
"There are 10 games left and we need to string a few wins together. Then that leaves a hard winter trying to find someone who can perform with the bat and bowl like Ruvin."
Church struggled against Ramsbottom on Sunday as they lost by eight wickets. Peiris only made 20 as Church were all out for 70 and the title chasing Rams knocked the runs off easily.
Ramsbottom are chasing RISHTON who increased their lead at the top of the table despite their narrow 11-run win over bottom club Accrington.
Middle order batsman Jimmy Bibby hit an unbeaten 44 in their 184-7 which proved crucial at the end.
Nishit Shetty's 70 meant Accrington were in a good position and, at 156-4, looked like they could pull off a shock victory. But Shaun Hutchinson polished off the lower order, ending on 5-27 to open Rishton's gap to 24 points.
And Rishton had ENFIELD to thank for their cushion as they saw off second placed East Lancs. But David Bracewell's side had to keep calm as they scraped home with just five runs to spare.
Enfield made 193-8 with professional Brandon Hiini (74) and Andy Barker (54) striking up a third wicket partnership to get the Dill Hall Laners out of trouble.
Bernard Reidy then took five wickets as Enfield came through a nail-biting last few overs to keep them in touch in a tightly-packed top half of the table.