Read hoping to set pace in title race

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AFTER the perfect start to the 2012 campaign Read captain Kyle O’Connor is determined not to let potential title contenders out of his sights.

O’Connor has identified last year’s champions Baxenden and 2010 victors Clitheroe as the major threats, with both picking up maximum points in comfortable fashion at the weekend.

Read face Whalley at Station Road tomorrow looking to build on their weekend win. “We want to build on the weekend and pick up another 12 points,” said O’Connor. “Whalley aren’t a team of superstars but they perform very well as a team.

“They are capable of beating anybody on their day and they’re a good side when they perform to their strengths.

“Their professional (Wilkin Mota) is the danger man but all their amateur players dig in and chip away together. Whalley can build a total and defend it or chase totals down so we need to restrict them the best we can.”

But the performance levels shown in victory over Great Harwood has pleased O’Connor, who is now intent on pushing forward and making an impression on the Ribblesdale Cricket League table as early as possible.

“It’s important that we maintain the pressure on teams like Baxenden and Clitheroe from the start,” he said. “We need to stay close and stick with the pack.

“I was really impressed with our first performance.

“We were excellent in terms of bowling, batting and fielding. Everyone showed their commitment and desire to win. It was a good start.”

Meanwhile, after picking up three bonus points in an opening day defeat to Barnoldswick, Padiham skipper John Bushell admits he’s confident ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Ribblesdale Wanderers at Church Meadow.

Despite early ambitions of a fifth place finish last term, Bushell’s dreams were taken away as tomorrow’s opponents nested in that spot.

And he’s expecting similar competition this time around.

“Ribblesdale are a similar type of side to ourselves,” he said. “They proved that they could beat anybody last year despite a very up and down season. They beat some very good sides.

“They have similar qualities to us as well so it should make for an interesting game.

“We expect a difficult game as always but hopefully with the strength of our squad we will get the right result.

“Nasir Mahmood is available which will be a massive boost for us because I consider him to be the best all-rounder in the league.

“We’ve also got Mick Hawke back and he’s got good qualities with both bat and ball.”

Bushell added: “We will look to develop the positives from the weekend and look to work on our consistency.

“They’ve got one or two new faces, including their pro Michael Erlank, who I’m unsure about because I’ve never played against him.

“But they’ve still got the evergreens like their captain Ian Britcliffe who bowls very steadily.”