They might provide the book-end at either side of the Lancashire League table - but form will be thrown out of the window when leaders Lowerhouse and basement side Burnley meet in the derby at the Neville Gee (Recruitment) Ground on Sunday.
The West Enders’ 10-run victory over Rawtenstall saw them usurp their opponents at the summit at the weekend while Bharat Tripathi’s men got off the mark with a seven-wicket win over Todmorden at Turf Moor.
“We’re very happy to be top,” said ‘House chairman Stan Heaton. “I still think there’s a lot of twists and turns to come though. The quality of the league this year, particularly in the upper half, is extremely high.”
He added: “Burnley will have all the big guns out which will make for a great game and superb atmosphere. People have a lot of views on the selection style that Burnley operate but it’s their prerogative.
“There’ll be a great deal of banter which there was in the Twenty20 game and Bharat Tripathi was very magnanimous in defeat. He took everything very well.
“I think there were quite a few bridges built in that fixture. There’s been quite a bit of unnecessary needle but hopefully there’ll be a more genial atmosphere on Sunday. We all know Burnley are in a terribly false position so it should be a good battle.”
Lowerhouse, who have already beaten Burnley in the league and Twenty20 this term, still face the possibility of landing an unprecedented treble. The 2012 double winners remain in contention for league, Twenty20 and Worsley Cup honours, where they face Rawtenstall at the Worswick Memorial Ground in the semi-final of the latter on Sunday, July 13th.
“It would be an incredible achievement to do the treble,” Heaton said. “We’re up against it in the Twenty20 and we’re relying on Nelson to slip up but it’s still our intention to try and win all three.
“We’re very excited by the Worsley Cup semi-final draw. We were prepared for anything but the opportunity to be able to play Burnley in the final was obviously preferable.
“Rawtenstall away is a good draw because it will be a good, well attended game at a lovely ground. Nelson or Burnley at home in the final would be a fantastic, eye-catching tie.”
Meanwhile, Burnley will be looking to bounce off the bottom by making it third time lucky against their rivals.
The Myprotein Turf Moor outfit won at the 10th attempt to plug the gap on Bacup, who were beaten comprehensively be fellow strugglers Colne.
“When the win finally came, it came well,” said skipper Tripathi. “We can put a few demons to rest now. It was good to finally get the win because it lifts a weight off our shoulders. There’s always pressure to perform, but at least people won’t be paying attention to it anymore.
“It was a good weekend all round. The confidence is higher now that we’ve put a couple of wins together. We are really looking forward to playing Lowerhouse now. It’s always a great game.”
He added: “We’ve been beaten fair and square by them on a couple of occasions this year. We just weren’t at the races each time. There’s always a bit of added spice for this fixture and extra competition to win. We’re just focussed on extending our run.”
And on the Worsley Cup draw, which pitted them against Nelson on home soil, Tripathi said: “We got the home draw which is great for us and the club. The potential for playing Lowerhouse in the final gives us that extra impetus. Not many things beat playing in a Worsley Cup final, especially against your rivals.
“It would be a great feeling and it provides the chance to be a part of a historic fixture. But we’ve got Nelson first who are in fine form so beating them will be no mean feat.”
○Burnley Cricket Club is holding a sportsman’s dinner on Friday, August 15th, at the club. The MC for the evening is the humorous Jed Stone and the guest of honour is the ex England fast bowler Dean Headley.
Tickets for the evening are now available at a cost of £30, which includes a three course meal.
These can be bought at the club or via email. A raffle and auction will also be held on the night.