Read hoping to be among the title challengers

Andrew Rushton for Read in their game against Ribblesdale WanderersAndrew Rushton for Read in their game against Ribblesdale Wanderers
Andrew Rushton for Read in their game against Ribblesdale Wanderers
Read captain Andrew Rushton is aiming to be among the challengers this season in the Ribblesdale Cricket League, which gets underway on Saturday.

And with the Whalley Road club hosting the Ramsbottom Cup Final, he hopes Read can make it to the showpiece and enjoy home advantage.

Read have again engaged Matthew Walker as professional, with Australian Bailey Richards signing as overseas amateur.

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The club have lost Ben Gorton to Bury, but former Lancashire pace man Oliver Newby returns from Westhoughton, and they have also signed Lowerhouse pair Ben Woodall and Shaun Heaton.

Rushton said: “My hopes for the season are to try and match, if not better what we did last year, especially in the cup. With the final being at Read this year, there is an added incentive for us to get to the final again.

“With regards to the league, I think the same teams as last year will be up there again all challenging for top spot.”

Read open the season at derby rivals Ribblesdale Wanderers.

Padiham will be without Brady Barends for their first season back in the top flight in the Ribblesdale Cricket League after the South African professional sustained a ‘serious’ injury.

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The 29-year-old hurt his shoulder while representing the North West Dragons as they beat Gauteng by 34 runs in the CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge final in Johannesburg.

Barends, a key factor in Padiham’s promotion last term, has recommended the services of team mate Siviwe Gadana who will step in as paid man for the term.

Until his arrival, Milnrow CC’s Neil Hornbuckle will fill the void in tomorrow’s opener against Feniscowles at the War Memorial Ground while the club is hopefulo that Burnley’s Asif Zakir will stand in the following week.

“It is with great disappointment that Padiham has to announce a change in professional for the season,” read a statement from the club. “News came through earlier this week that Brady Barends picked up a serious shoulder injury during his cup final win last Sunday. Over the past few days, Brady has been to see a specialist who confirmed the need for long term rehabilitation and possibly surgery.

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“The club committee has acted quickly and with the help and recommendation of Brady we have signed his North West Dragons team mate Siviwe Gadana from South Africa. Siviwe is an opening bowler and right handed batsman who will be arriving in around two weeks once his visa is received.

“May we wish Brady, who to the club is more than just a cricketer, he’s a friend to many, a very speedy recovery and we hope to see him back at the Arbories in the future.”

Meanwhile, the Lancashire League will attempt to get underway at the second time of asking on Sunday, as Burnley host Crompton, and Lowerhouse travel to Milnrow.