Steve Brunt’s Worsley Cup hopes

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BURNLEY will be hoping their brush with fame inspires them to a double dose of victory this weekend.

Steve Brunt’s side face Haslingden twice, in the Lancashire League tomorrow and the Worsley Cup on Sunday, as they look to erase the disappointment of last week’s derby wash-out against Lowerhouse, where cricket legend and Sky Sports presenter David Lloyd was in attendance.

The media conglomerates were following the Turf Moor outfit as part of a six-episode series called ‘Club Life’ due to air on May 29th. But Brunt admits he enjoyed the experience: “I had a brief chat with David but most of the interviews were done with the producer on Saturday. It was very enjoyable and a great experience and it was good to see what it was like for professionals being in the spotlight.”

But it’s back to business now and Brunt is keen to go one step further than last season when they lost to Ramsbottom in an epic semi-final. He said: “Hopefully we can win tomorrow and start the cup well. We are targeting a good cup run and we know we are capable of doing that. Then we’ll look to gauge how they play tomorrow and take that in to Sunday’s game. We want to start climbing that league.”

And Brunt was in buoyant mood with news that former Pakistan Under 19 captain Imad Wasim has arrived and should be available to play this weekend. “Our pro arrived on Wednesday so he will go straight in to it. He’s had a couple of days to acclimatise so we hope he can make an instant impact. We’ve heard he’s a very good all-rounder.”

Meanwhile, Lowerhouse chairman Stan Heaton hopes the West Enders can continue to defy the odds ahead of another tough weekend.

The Liverpool Road side have had an outstanding start to the season, winning four games from five, as they sit third just three points behind joint league leaders Haslingden and Accrington.

Lowerhouse, who welcome Ben Heap back, travel to Blackburn Road to face Church tomorrow and Heaton said: “Church are another side that we expect will be challenging at the end of the season. That tough start to the season continues tomorrow. But we are full of confidence and if we beat Church we will believe in ourselves even more. It’s a case of best foot forward now in the league.”

And then Colne block their path from a place in the next round of the Worsley Cup on Sunday. Matt Walker will return to the side for this fixture. Heaton added: “Any given team can beat another in the cup. Colne haven’t started great but we won’t be taking them for granted but we want to keep that winning momentum going. We will be taking every competition seriously, because it’s more enjoyable when you’re winning and playing good cricket.”

Read professional Stuart Hornby is just one wicket away from becoming the most prolific bowler in the Ribblesdale Cricket League this season.

But the paid man will have to make a few enemies in his bid for the number one spot as he returns to his former stomping ground tomorrow, the Marshfield Ground.

Stand-in skipper Gareth Halley said: “It’s a big game for Stuart this weekend who goes back to Settle after being their professional for four years. Settle have always been a side that you should never underestimate, but I can’t see us getting beat at the moment. Our bowling attack has been strengthened and that should end our downfall of not being able to take all 10 wickets.”

The game against Settle will mark the return of an influential trio for Read, namely captain Warren Eastham, Will Driver and Oliver Newby. The Whalley Road outfit will desperately seeking a sixth victory in as many games to keep the pressure on leaders Baxenden.

Halley added: “It’ll be good to have Warren back not just for his experience, he’s nearly 50 now, but having a slow bowling option is something we’ve missed so that will make a big difference. Will Driver is looking match fit now so fingers crossed he’ll be making a return and Oliver Newby will be make who is a massive addition for us. They just strengthen the side even more and it’s good that we don’t just have to rely on Stuart Hornby to do everything.”

And Padiham, who have the league’s most prolific bowler in their ranks in Chris Holt with 24 wickets, will be looking to extend their recent run of three consecutive wins.

Captain John Bushell outlined the importance of himself and Holt taking a bigger responsibility and they did that in victory over Oswaldtwistle Immanuel as they posted 51 and 53 runs respectively. “We’ve got young lads in the side so it’s important for the more experienced players to take that extra responsibility, especially myself and Chris Holt, so it was nice to finish the game,” Bushell said.

Padiham are locked on 37 points with tomorrow’s opponents Earby and Bushell has already highlighted the Applegarth dangermen. He said: “It’s another big game for us tomorrow. They’ve got some good players and a great pro. Ali Azmat is as good as anything in this league and has been for some years now. I really rate him.

“But they’ve got some great amateurs in their ranks as well with captain Craig Walton and brother Chris among the best batsmen in the league. They are very accomplished players.”

He added: “With each game that comes we are doing things a little bit different and a little bit better. Three wins in a row proves we are capable of putting a run together and that improves confidence. We want to keep that winning streak going.”