Liverpool Road stalwart Stan Heaton has championed Burnley’s right to utilise the club’s ‘galacticos’.
The Lowerhouse CC chairman is renowned in the Lancashire League for being a dedicated and passionate advocate of junior development, and he’s pleased to see the current league leaders reaping their rewards.
County cricket stars David Brown, Jon Clare and Michael Brown were cultivated and educated at Turf Moor alongside England’s all-time leading wicket taker in Test matches, Jimmy Anderson, while Vishal Tripathi made his move from the West Enders as a teenager.
Now that aforementioned group, with the obvious exception of Anderson, have returned to their roots in a bid to repay the club for the time and effort it invested in them.
With four points separating the two rivals at the summit after five fixtures, Heaton said: “It’s going to be very interesting. Jonny Clare has been added so fair play to them.
“They’ve not had the opportunity to use those lads for a long time but now they’re finally getting that opportunity and rightly so.
“It’s good for the league to have these county cricketers associated with it. It’s not like they’re bringing in a player without any links to the club.
“These players are a product of the club’s development system and it’s fantastic that they are playing for their home-town club. Junior cricket can be the saviour of every club, I believe very deeply in that, and this backs up that case.”
Charlie Cottam will steward his side through two matches against Rishton at Blackburn Road this weekend.
Points will be the prize up for grabs in tomorrow’s clash while progression in the Worsley Cup will be the reward for the victor in Sunday’s fixture.
Meanwhile, Heaton’s sentiment was echoed by former Gloucestershire and Glamorgan representative David Brown.
The 32-year-old, who made his First-class debut with Durham UCCE in 2003 against Nottinghamshire, backs up the belief that clubs should capitalise on the potential of youth players at an early age.
Brown, who made his Burnley debut against Bacup at Lanehead in April 1998, though the game was eventually abandoned, said: “There was my brother Michael, Steven Holden, Jonathan Clare, Vishal and Bharat Tripathi to an extent, lots of other lads.
“it’s been an amazing feat for the club that so many of us played county cricket.
“There was Mark Harvey and Jon before us as well.
“It helped getting an opportunity to play senior cricket.
“Dale Benkenstein was pro in 1997 and he was an amazing influence, top quality and a fantastic bloke.
“He was only 23, down here two, three nights a week with the kids, he took us at Under 18s.
“There were the likes of Andy McLeod, Dave Connolly as well, who made it fun to play here, and my dad was captain.
“He put a lot of us in the first team, probably when we weren’t good enough, but we got the opportunity, and it stretches you.”
Brown added: “I got dropped to the twos, got 50 and came back in. You found you dominated against your age group because you’d been playing against men.
“It toughens you up - Lowerhouse are doing similar now, investing in youth.
“A lot of money used to go on big-name pros, but youth is the future of the club.
“I watched my brother and dad open against Allan Donald – I videoed it actually, I was 13 or 14 and I remember the hysteria.
“You’re in awe of sporting heroes like that, it was amazing to watch him.
“The great players who came in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, probably did it for financial reasons, but they don’t need to these days.”
Burnley host East Lancs tomorrow before beginning the second defence of their Worsley Cup crown against Haslingden at Bentgate on Sunday.