the superb summer of 2012 for Walsden Cricket Club
the winter of 2012/13 was totally the opposite.
A HMRC investigation into the club’s affairs meant a very worrying
winter for club officials. As it happens
the investigation was eventually concluded just prior to the 2013 season with
no cost to the club. However these
worries during the winter resulted in the difficult decision being made not to
retain the services of the hugely popular Sri Lankan Ranil
Dhammika who had served the club so superbly in 2012,
and instead to opt for a home based player with the related cost savings. The club were very fortunate to secure the
services of Richard Sladdin, a 44 year old left arm
spinner who had played country cricket with distinction for both Derbyshire and
The 2013 season saw the introduction within the Central Lancashire League of the new 2 tier league basis with 8 premier league teams and 8 second division teams. This meant that Walsden’s chances of retaining the premier championship would be more difficult given that the best 8 teams in the league would play one another 4 times in the season rather than just the 2 in previous years. This new format certainly raised the standards of cricket played in the Premier League with many closely contested games and very few walk overs!
Walsden started the season with the same strong amateur pool of players once again led by Chris Dewhirst. The team were joined by Shubham Harkal a 17 year old Indian batsman, leg spinner as overseas amateur on the recommendation of Matt Dawson.
season got underway on 14 April 2013 at a cloudy and cold
first visitors to
last weekend in April saw the 2012 league runners up Heywood visit
The weather improved the following weekend when Walsden visited Milnrow for whom the talented all round Pakistani Barbar Naeem was professional. A superb 8-60 off 17 overs by pro Sladdin restricted Milnrow to a challenging total of 173. A poor start by Walsden with only Jake Hooson 31 offering any resistance saw Walsden slump to 60-5. Useful scores of 22 from Sladdin and 25 from Joe Gale gave Walsden hope but Naeem’s nagging leg spin proved too challenging and Walsden were dismissed for 133.
Another cloudy day in early May saw Norden with South African pro Michael Price visit Walsden. Norden’s bowlers well marshalled by ex-Lancashire player Dexter Fitton bowled tightly and only Rawlinson with 43, Sladdin with 34 and a breezy knock of 37 by Shackleton provided Norden with the not too daunting target of 189. If Walsden could dismiss Price then they had a chance but as usual they couldn’t! Price, as was the norm against Walsden batted very well for a patient 84 not out and was well supported by Gregg Tattersall with 46 to see Norden home for the loss of only 5 wickets.
Rain in mid-May resulted in Walsden’s visit to Norden being washed out without a ball being bowled.
A Wood Cup interlude in round 1 at second division Radcliffe resulted in an easy win for the champions. Walsden after a shaky start scored 191 all out with Harkal 42, Joe Gale 46, Rawlinson 26 and a very useful 21 not out from number ten Dewhirst setting Radcliffe a challenging target. Radcliffe never threatened Walsden’s target and were dismissed for only 88 with Sladdin and Harkal taking 3 wickets apiece and Harkal deservedly taking the man of the match award.
A disastrous late May T20 visit to Milnrow resulted not only in defeat but a serious finger injury to pro Sladdin which would keep him out of cricket for at least 6 weeks. This meant the club going through the hugely difficult process of obtaining decent sub pros for all of June and most of July - not good! Coupled with this was the fact that the top of the batting order was certainly not firing on all cylinders and only the depth of the batting was keeping the team in contention for the league at this stage. Expectations in late May were probably a mid-table finish.
The last game in May saw Middleton
As the summer improved a sunny Saturday on 1 June saw Walsden visit title contenders Heywood at their Crimble ground. Walsden had recruited Todmorden professional Sri Lankan Geeth Alwis for this key fixture. Walsden as was the norm for most of the early part of the season began poorly and when Alwis was dismissed for nought Walsden were 27-3. Fortunately Nick Barker returned to form and hit a superb 81 well supported by Rawlinson batting at No. 6 who scored 24 and some superb hitting from Joe Gale 19 and Josh Gale 21 saw Walsden to a challenging 202 all out. Heywood reply was threating and they moved comfortably to 66-2, but when Hooson bowled Cross and Alwis dismissed Pawson Heywood fell away badly and were dismissed for only 135, with Alwis 3 wickets and Joe Gale 3 wickets wrapping things up quickly.
The next visitors to Walsden were Milnrow. Walden had recruited the superb
In the second round of the Wood Cup Milnrow were the visitors to Walsden. Sub pro Tasmanian John Wells sealed the game early on with a superb exhibition of swing bowling for Walsden taking 5 wickets for 11 runs off his ten overs. Josh Gale chipped in with 5 overs 3 for 20 and Milnrow were dismissed for only 90. After an early wobble when Walsden were 20-3 Nick Barker 29 not out, Wells 26 and Harkal 14 not out saw Walsden home off only 25 overs.
Next was a visit to Middleton’s Towncroft ground where unfortunately Ashar Zaidi was deputising this time for Middleton whilst Walsden had again recruited the Victorian Dan Salpietro. Walsden had a terrible start with Rawlinson and Dawson both being dismissed for ducks. Fortunately a good innings of 71 from Hooson supported by Salpietro 29, Harkal 29 and Joe Gale 23 saw Walsden progress to 185-8 off their 50 overs. Walsden bowled poorly with only Shackleton with 3 wickets having any success. Zaidi 82 not out well supported by Davey 62 not out smashed Walsden’s bowlers to all parts of the ground to win easily for the loss of only 3 wickets.
again deputised for the visit of
This game marked the halfway stage of the league and with all the top sides taking points off one another, Walsden were still in with a shout of retaining the title but would need to up their game to do so.
Norden with pro Mark Price were the next visitors to
The semi-final of the Wood Cup at 2nd division Monton was a good opportunity for the club to return to winning ways, which they did thrashing Monton, who were dismissed for only 96 on a beautiful summers day. Nick Barker having a rare bowl took the man of the match award for his 10 overs 4-20 well supported by ex Todmorden pro Qaiser Abbas 2-15 with Joe Gale and Shackleton also taking 2 wickets each. Twenties for Hooson, Rawlinson, Dawson and 17 not out for Abbas saw Walsden reach their target off only 21 overs.
New found confidence,
then saw Walsden thrash Middleton in the league at
their Towncroft ground.
What was now extremely encouraging was
the fact that Walsden’s top order were now returning
to the form of 2012 and Sladdin was now fit to resume
as pro. This certainly proved to be the
case as Heywood’s visit to
Walsden were now on a ‘roll’.
A cloudy day at
The rains returned in late July for Littleborough’s visit to Walsden which resulted in a 20 over game with Littleborough getting off to a flyer, and quickly amassing a very challenging 160-5 off their 20 overs. A brilliant 81 not out from Hooson saw Walsden to the verge of victory but a torrential downpour with Walsden needing 19 runs off 2 overs with 5 wickets left finished things off as a draw. Both teams of course thought they would have won!
The second visit of the season to
The first Sunday in August is always Wood Cup final day and Walsden visited Heywood Crimble ground to face a Heywood team who were still very much in the mix for the league title. Walsden won the toss and elected to bat. A promising start with Hooson 17 and Rawlinson 25 soon turned to a struggle and at 50-4 Walsden were in trouble. A partnership of 70 between Nick Barker 38 and Josh Gale 28 gave Walsden hope but when they were both dismissed the team struggled to a total of 163 all out.
Rain at the end of Walsden’s innings and on Monday meant a Tuesday night resumption. Walsden’s bowlers began well and with Joe Gale brilliantly running out Zelem and Stevie Barker removing Heywood’s South African pro Travis Townsend things were in the balance. Heywood had advanced to 72-2 when a superb over form Josh Gale saw Heywood slump to 72-5 and at this stage give Walsden real hope. Unfortunately Bobby Cross played a superb captains innings and saw Heywood home with a brilliant 88 not out to see Heywood win for the loss of 6 wickets.
A return to league action in mid-August saw Walsden thrash Middleton at Walsden. Rawlinson 64 and Nick Barker 63 not out who were both now in excellent form laid the foundations and quick runs from the Gale brothers saw Walsden to a very challenging 237. Once Stevie Barker had removed both Middleton openers Stanworth and Walker, wickets fell at regular intervals and the away team were dismissed for a poor 86 with Stevie Barker taking 5 for 31 off his 11 overs.
rain the following weekend meant that only 1 over was bowled by Walsden at Littleborough. At this stage the league was very tight with Walsden just ahead of Littleborough,
potentially tricky fixture against
In the penultimate league game in August relegation bound Milnrow again visited Walsden. Walsden again batted. Walsden’s top order was now functioning very well and Hooson 29, Rawlinson 51 and Nick Barker 45 again laid the foundations. Late runs from Joe Gale 23 and Dewhirst and Sladdin resulted in another challenging score of 216-8. Again Walsden’s bowlers were superb. Shackleton’s opening spell was excellent, well supported by Hooson and Milnrow were in big trouble at 38-6. Another 3 wicket haul for Sladdin resulted in Milnrow being dismissed for 79. Another 5 points.
In 2012 Walsden’s late season win at Norden was the first time that the title became a real possibility and things were no different in 2013. A terrible start for Walsden saw them 0 for 2 off 2 balls. Fortunately these days Walsden’s batting is made of stern stuff. Rawlinson and the resolute Nick Barker again dug in against some excellent Norden bowling. Barker batted for a long time for what proved to be a critical 53 runs and again a late onslaught from Harkal 18 and then Joe Gale 29 including three sixes in one over resulted in a reasonable but certainly not unattainable 179 all out.
reply began well with professional Price and Harvey Fitton
looking pretty untroubled. The key
moment in the game was when Price advanced down the wickets to Sladdin and keeper Brown whipped off the bails to dismiss Walsden’s nemesis Price for 29. Unfortunately Norden’s
Kiwi overseas amateur Pimm also played very well and
at 141 for 3 Norden were cruising. Skipper Dewhirst not for the first time in
desperation invited Nick Barker to ply his mixture of dibbly
dobblies, leg cutters and quicker balls. When Pimm
inexplicably tried to slog Sladdin out of the ground
and was caught by Joe Gale the wobbles set in for Norden’s
batsman. Nick well supported by brother
Stevie bowled a match winning spell of 10.4 overs 6
for 20. Norden
slumped from 141 for 3 to 161 all out.
An unbelievable game and the fact that Heywood lost at
On the last Saturday in August Walsden accepted Todmorden's invitation to compete in a newly formed T20 competition involving 4 local teams. Todmorden easily beat Bacup in round 1 whilst Walsden beat Littleborough in hugely entertaining game. Littleborough scored a very respectable 160 off their 20 overs and at half time were pretty confident of victory. A steady start paved the way for Nick Barker 74 and Dawson 35 to take Walsden to a very narrow victory in a superb game.
T20 final was a relatively poor game with Walsden
dismissing Todmorden for only 84.
On the first Sunday of September Walsden were schedule to play Heywood in what would have been a critical game. Unfortunately for all concerned Heywood decided to concentrate on their own Lancashire Trophy semi-final game and conceded the game to Walsden (much furore and correspondence between both clubs and the league executive followed) but Heywood’s decision gave Walsden the 5 points they needed to become inaugural champions of the new CLL premiership for 2013.
With the title now decided Walsden’s last visit to relegated Milnrow saw another rampant batting display to amass 235-6. Kristian Halstead again deputising at the top of the order scored an excellent 43 well supported by Stevie Barker with 38. Dawson, Harkal and Joe Gale then decided to despatch the ball to all parts of the ground with extremely entertaining “hitting”. Again Milnrow had no answer to Walsden’s pressure bowling. Shackleton with 4 wickets was well supported by Nick Barker 2 wickets, Stevie Barker and Joe Gale one wicket each and when Milnrow had progressed to 146-8 with no prospect of winning the rains ensured a 4 point win for Walsden on run rate.
With the title race now over and the Walsden team wanting to commence with their end of season celebrations the rains kindly ensured that not a ball would be bowled in the last game of the season versus Rochdale at Walsden. The celebrations began with Walsden winning the league by a healthy margin of 14 points from their nearest challengers Littleborough.
won 18 off their 28 games, drawing 5 and losing 5. In 2012 they had lost only 2 games but this
was still a fantastic effort considering the fact that the new Premier league
had certainly resulted in tougher cricket.
Second placed Littleborough had won 16 of
their 28 games, with
The statistics below as complied by scorer Mick Watson illustrated the strength in depth of both Walsden’s batting and bowling. Skipper Dewhirst who began the season batting at number 10 averages over 25 for the season whilst Stevie Barker who started batting at number 9 also averaged over 20. Similarly Nick Barker who didn’t bowl in the first half of the seasons took 24 wickets at just under 11 runs per wicket. The first team were also very fortunate to have some very capable stand ins from the second team when required and Kristian Halstead in particular didn’t disappoint.
The overall statistics make very impressive reading. Nick Barker who was named player of the year scored 584 runs at an average of 34.3 and finished 3rd overall in the league amateur batting averages, whilst both Rawlinson 771 runs at 28.5 and Hooson 716 runs at 27.5 also figured prominently in the league averages. (Hooson was also named young player of the year in the C.L.L.). Every player with the exception of pro Sladdin and Shackleton scored over 180 runs and every player in the team played a key innings at some stage in the season.
On the bowling front pro Sladdin had a superb season with 50 wickets at 13.7 (and missed 8 games due to injury), as did the irrepressible Joe Gale who won the amateur bowling averages aged 17 with 32 wickets at 18.75 well supported by Jamie Shackleton 30 wickets at 26.7. Other important contributions came from Nick and Stevie Barker with 24 wickets apiece and Josh Gale, Hooson and Harkal. As the stats below reveal all the players could bat and bowl.
Special mention must be made for all 4 juniors in the team. Jake Hooson, Joe Gale, brother Josh and Harkal are without doubt some of the best young players in the league and all made important contributions during the season. It was the blend of talented youngsters coupled with some of the best senior players in the league that has resulted in successive championships for Walsden.
Statistics for the season were as follows:-
WALSDEN CC 1ST XI
Includes LCB trophy
NAME INNS NO H/S RUNS AVE
N Barker 23 6 81 584 34.36
K Halstead 7 1 57 178 29.67
J Rawlinson 29 2 110 771 28.56
J Hooson 28 2 97 716 27.54
C Dewhirst 17 10 33 no 181 25.86
S Barker 16 6 38 201 20.10
Joe Gale 23 2 52 384 18.29
Josh Gale 24 4 58 no 337 16.85
R Sladdin 13 3 34 116 11.60
J Shackleton 16 3 37 110 8.47
Includes LCB trophy
NAME OVERS MAIDENS
R Sladdin 221.1 44 685 50 13.70
Joe Gale 148.2 17 560 31 18.07
J Shackleton 193.4 14 799 31 25.78
N Barker 75.4 8 257 24 10.71
Josh Gale 24.0 1 124 9 13.78
M Halstead 18.0 3 63 3 21.00
S Barker 151.4 10 661 24 27.55
J Hooson 137.3 14 441 17 28.30
C Dewhirst 6.0 0 51 1 51.00
HIGHEST WICKET PARTNERSHIPS
1ST J Hooson J Rawlinson 121 v Littleborough Away
2nd J Rawlinson C Hughes 86 v Middleton Away
3rd N Barker J Rawlinsion 191 v Clifton Away
4th N Barker S Harkal 84 v Littleborough Home
5th N Barker Josh Gale 70 v Heywood Away
6th N Barker Josh Gale 70 v Middleton Home
7th N Barker Joe Gale 100 v Rochdale Away
8th R Sladdin J Shackleton 59 v Norden Home
9th Joe Gale C Dewhirst 39 v Radcliffe Away
10th C Dewhirst J Shackleton 26 v Clifton Away
James Rawlinson scored 110 at
Matt Dawson also scored 105 in the Lancashire Trophy game at Walsden. Jake Hooson scored 6 half centuries whilst Nick Barker and Rawlinson scored 5 each. In six hitting Joe Gale and Matt Dawson lead the way with 15 each.
On the bowling front Richard Sladdin 8 for 60 at Milnrow was the best bowling of the season followed by Nick Barker 6 for 20 at Norden and John Wells 5 for 11 versus Milnrow in the Wood Cup at home.
Top catchers in the season were Dewhirst with 15, Rawlinson with 13 and Josh Gale and Harkal with 10 each. This team do not drop many catches which can often make a critical difference to the results of games. Wicket keeper Matt Dawson had another superb season (despite a bad back for many games) with 26 catches and 5 stumpings. Finally the highest score of the season was 237 for 8 against Middleton at home. This is not an unduly high score and again reflects the higher standard of the newly formed Premier League. Walsden can by very proud of their achievements to win this in its inaugural season.
The fact that Walsden second team also won the league and with the club winning the aggregate trophy in successive years together with both teams reaching the Wood Cup and Burton Cup finals made it a very special season for Walsden Cricket & Bowling Club and a great pool of players.
C Barker (November 2013)