Burnley chairman Michael Brown has lamented the absence of key personnel that has caused considerable affliction to the club’s fortunes this term.
The Turf Moor outfit remain cemented to the bottom of the Lancashire League table as the winless streak was stretched in morale crumbling defeats to Nelson and rivals Lowerhouse at the weekend.
Burnley culminated last year’s campaign in third position after being crowned Worlsey Cup champions. However, the squad has been depleted and cracks in performances have started to show.
Qasim Ali was the league’s most potent amateur batsman last season with 791 runs but the 31-year-old, who joined the club in 2008, is unable to commit having been appointed head coach of England’s disabled team.
The club is also feeling the affects of Adnan Rasool’s departure with the Pakistani professional accumulating 76 wickets - the second highest haul in the league last term - which included figures of 9-41.
And 19-year-old Cole Hayman’s stint on the sidelines has also contributed to the club’s struggles to date as the talented teenager assisted with 30 scalps last season.
Meanwhile, in addition to the aforementioned statistics, Brown is the only player to fire a half-century in the current campaign when notching up an unbeaten 63 in the four-wicket loss to Todmorden in April at Centre Vale.
“Unfortunately the stats don’t lie,” said Brown. “We’ve struggled and it’s simply because we haven’t played well enough. We’ve suffered from players leaving as well while others haven’t been fit. We’ve lost seven from eight but I keep emphasising to the lads that they need to remain confident.
“Winning games and turning this around won’t just happen but we need to start taking responsibility. We’ve lost key players and that’s affected us. We’ve lost 800 runs from Qasim, almost 80 wickets from Adnan and 30 from Cole. If you pro-rata those statistics you can see how it’s affected us. On paper we aren’t as strong as we were last year. That extra strength can win you games.”
Brown added: “The bowling has been relatively okay but we need to start getting runs. We haven’t set big enough scores or been able to chase opposition totals. I’m sure at some point we will click. Key players in Lancashire League cricket make a huge difference.”
Burnley host Colne in the Twenty20 competition tonight before entertaining Bacup tomorrow and champions Accrington at Thorneyholme Road on Sunday.
“We have more balance than a lot of teams when it comes to limited over games,” said Brown ahead of the mini-derby. “We’ve got good bowling depth. But we need to improve with the bat as well. We want to do well in every competition and we’ve still got the cups to go for.”
Elsewhere, it was a weekend of landmarks for Lowerhouse as the club’s title challenge stayed on track with victories over Colne and Burnley.
The West Enders, who are 10 points adrift of surprise leaders Rawtenstall, won the mini-derby at the Horsfield by 155 runs before dismantling rivals Burnley with a four-wicket win in the derby at Turf Moor.
The first fixture saw Ben Heap reach 3,000 runs for the club when hitting number 10 of an unbeaten knock of 49, while paid man Cobus Pienaar achieved his best innings bowling analysis when taking 5-38, exceeding his previous best of 5-86.
And the South African, nephew of Test cricketer Fanie de Villiers, topped that once more, just 24 hours later, when David Brown, Chris Holt, Matt Tomlinson, Michael Kelly, Paul Mortimer and Jhangir Liaqat fell victim to his prowess at the expense of 22 runs.
Jonathan Finch also reached the milestone of 350 Lancashire League wickets when ousting Burnley opener Daniel Pickup.
Lowerhouse travel to Seedhill tonight to start the defence of their Twenty20 crown before travelling to Alexandra Meadows to take on East Lancs tomorrow and hosting Enfield at the Neville Gee (Recruitment) Ground on Sunday.