Clarke has eyes on promotion following cup setback

PADIHAM CC V CLITHEROE CC: Padiham's Callum Clarke faces the bowling of Josh Marquet.'Photo Ben Parsons
PADIHAM CC V CLITHEROE CC: Padiham's Callum Clarke faces the bowling of Josh Marquet.'Photo Ben Parsons

Padiham captain Callum Clarke hasn’t allowed cricket’s fragile margins gnaw away at his ambition.

His side let a Ramsbottom Cup final appearance slip through their hands, literally, as Ribblesdale Wanderers edged closer to a third cup triumph in four seasons.

With Brannon Varley in the embryonic stages of his innings, an airborne shot was dropped with the Church Meadow amateur in single figures. The South African’s response was prolific as he struck a magnificent knock of 103 from 90 deliveries to contribute significantly to the home side’s total of 249.

After missing out on the Applegarth final on July 27th, when falling 114 runs short of their target, Clarke said: “It wasn’t a brilliant weekend. In the cup tie we got the pro (Ben Dougall) early on but then Brannon came in and smashed 100.

“We missed some good opportunities to get him because we dropped him on four. They’re fine margins and we’re disappointed to have missed out on a cup final. That moment cost us the game but we need to move on.”

Clarke has now averted his attention to gaining promotion to the Ribblesdale Cricket League’s top tier. The Arbories outfit must bridge a 24-point gap between themselves and Salesbury if they’re to achieve that goal, but a double-header against Barnoldswick on home soil tomorrow and leaders Clitheroe at Chatburn Road on Sunday does pave an opportunity.

“The focus moves to trying to get promotion now,” he said. “We are still confident. Barnoldswick are struggling in the top tier so I believe we can beat them at home.

“Against Clitheroe we’ll have to do the same as what we did against them in the cup. They won’t be looking forward to playing us. We’re working hard and heading in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Kyle O’Connor has challenged his squad to fight for their inclusion in the Twenty20 finals day.

Read, who face lowly Brooksbottom in the semi-final at Rowlands Road on July 20th, maintained their charge for LCB Knockout Cup qualification by beating Cherry Tree by five wickets at the weekend to keep the pressure on their rivals.

And O’Connor wants that rich vein of form to continue. Ahead of Sunday’s re-arranged game against Baxenden at Back Lane, he said: “We’re away to Baxenden and it’s a great opportunity to keep this momentum going. I’m very happy with how the lads have responded.

“Every player is applying themselves properly and playing with better discipline. I’ll have selection problems this weekend because Elliott Artingstoll is back from his ban.”

O’Connor added: “Baxenden’s pro (Asif Iqbal) and Gary Sudworth are both very good cricketers. I’ve played against Gary since I was about 10 so I know how good he is.

“Everyone is vying for their place in the Twenty20 final now. Hopefully we’ll be all set and ready to go on the day.”

Read Cricket Club is hosting a BBQ tomorrow at 8 p.m. Tickets, which include a hog roast supper and live entertainment from Simon Lee, are £7.50 and can be purchased from the venue.