LOWERHOUSE may be sat comfortably on a 15-point cushion at the top of the Lancashire League but chairman Stan Heaton continues to manifest the modest attitude within the ranks.
The West Enders refuse to get carried away, opting instead to focus on performances and results rather than their position in the table.
Heaton said: “It’s always nice to have a cushion because I’d be very surprised if we go unbeaten from now until the end of the season,” Heaton said. “The cushion will be very useful; I hope we don’t get beat but statistics suggest that we will do at some point.
“We are not looking at it as a league-winning campaign, it’s just progress. We’ve had some modest seasons, brought through some good juniors and had some good cricketers return. The fact that we are top of the league suggests we are progressing.”
Charlie Cottam’s side haven’t added any superstars to their line-up, the progression of youth, an unrivalled team spirit, belief and a prolific paid man have been the dominant factors behind their achievements. Last season professional Aaron Heal smashed 650 runs in 23 matches with the bat, but Francois Haasbroek has already totalled 529 runs from 18 matches, adding 57 wickets in the process.
“We’ve signed a great pro but it’s not like we’ve gone out and signed some top names,” Heaton said. “It’s been a case of gelling together. Whatever happens, we’ve made progress. Saturday was the first game that our pro hasn’t taken a wicket but even still he bowled very economically. The pro is crucial to the team.”
Lowerhouse travel to Blackburn Road on Sunday to face basement side Rishton with Jon Finch a doubt after breaking a finger, while Jonny Whitehead is also absent.
Meanwhile, a 75% win rate from their last four fixtures has seen Burnley captain Steve Brunt eyeing up an ambitious bid for mid-table.
Victories over Colne, East Lancs and champions Ramsbottom have put the Turf Moor side in buoyant mood as they moved to 11th. They had won just twice in 14 outings prior, but Brunt is eager to keen to maintain that form: “We’ve been playing some good cricket for the last six weeks now and the results are finally starting to turn for us. There’s been some good team performances and everybody has been contributing.
“Confidence is flowing through the team but the spirit has always been good and we’ve always stuck together. We are leaving it a bit late to climb the table significantly but we’ll keep working hard and aim for mid-table because we want to finish as high as possible.”
Brunt added: “It’s been a season of re-building but we are disappointed with where we are. We are better than our league position suggests so we just need to continue this form for the remainder of the season.
“Confidence plays a huge part. We’ve had help from Michael Brown who has offered his experience both on and off the field which has made a big difference. All the players have stepped up.”
Brunt’s men beat East Lancs by 34 runs at the Alexandra Meadows just a couple of weeks ago and now the aim is to complete the double on Sunday.
Read skipper Warren Eastham will be doing everything in his power to avoid another trophy-less campaign.
Eastham suffered that heartache last season under the captaincy of Chris Holt as the Whalley Road club finished second in the Ribblesdale League and runners-up in the Twenty20 competition.
Read sit second in the table having lost to Ribblesdale Wanderers in the Ramsbottom Cup Final, and the Read captain isn’t prepared to settle for second best again: “The teams that win things are the teams that put the best performances in when it counts.
“At the moment that team is Baxenden but they haven’t escaped the chasing group. We are determined to come out with something at the end of the season and we will keep scrapping until the end. It’s all swings and roundabouts.”
Read’s reign at the top was short-lived and a six-point gap now stands between them and table-topping Baxenden.
Read travel to Church Meadow in search of revenge against Ribblesdale Wanderers tomorrow and then a huge clash versus high-flying Barnoldswick the following week will set them up nicely for a defining double-header Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month.
“We are disappointed not to be top of the league because it took a lot of effort to get there in the first place,” Eastham said. “But we are still in the mix and we won’t be giving up the fight.”
Five wins from the final six fixtures of the season is the target for Padiham captain John Bushell.
The Arbories side recorded 13 victories, finishing sixth with 176 points during 2010 and to date they have nine wins with 133 points, being good enough for seventh position.
“We would like to show progression in our ‘wins’ column,” Bushell said. “We won 13 last year and with six games to go we’ve won nine. It’s a big ask but that’s what we would like to achieve. We want to be competitive and continue enjoying our cricket. I know the lads will carry on working hard.
“It’s been a massive year for us. We have got some lads who are very young in terms of experience. They can now believe in themselves and achieve success. It has all helped to build the foundations for next year.”
Padiham face Great Harwood tomorrow.