Cricket: Gale’s forced to acknowledge team’s runners-up frustration

Umesh Karunaratne
Umesh Karunaratne
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Walsden CC’s Kenny Gale admits missing out on the Central Lancashire Premier Division title for a second successive year has been frustrating, but is keen to take positives from 2015.

After taking the crown in 2012 and 2013, Walsden’s young side finished as runners up last year and look set for a similar fate this time round after Norden sealed top spot last weekend.

However, Gale says he feels optimistic going forward.

“It’s been disappointing to miss out on the title after coming so close but it’s still been a good year,” he insisted.

“We made an impact in every competition we’ve entered, so we know we have a good side and we’ve got some good memories from the summer, but it is frustrating to have come so close so often.”

Having won 13 of their 23 fixtures so far this season, Walsden sit second in the table heading into the final weekend, 13 points adrift of the champions and a point clear of third-placed Monton & Weaste. They fell out of the Wood Cup in Round Two at the hands of Royton, despite Callum Rushton’s 57, while they finished with a clean sweep of wins in their T20 group, but fell short of claiming the title.

“It’s definitely not been through a lack of effort,” added Gale. “We’ve been unfortunate to have a number of players unavailable and, with us playing each side three times, our draw was tough as well – we had to play the likes of Rochdale twice away from home.

“We had our club captain out injured for a lot of the year, but we’ve got a young side who will be together for many years to come.”

Gale says their recent near misses have ignited a hunger for success within the club and, with some star professionals returning to Scott Street next year, he believes they can challenge for trophies once again in 2016, citing Saturday’s win over a strong Rochdale side, where Umesh Karunaratne starred with 23 runs and three wickets, as a sign of their potential.

He said: “The setbacks will make us hungrier to win some silverware again next season.

“We picked up a great comeback win against Rochdale at the weekend which showed what we can be capable of and we’ve got some pros coming back next year who will add something to us.

“If they perform, we’ve got a great chance of doing something special next year.

“It’s all change with us going into the Pennine League – we’re looking forward to it.”

Though there are still six months until Walsden will be able to put their title credentials to the test, they won’t be left kicking their heels during the winter as their football side prepares to click into gear later this month. Gale admits he is excited about the coming football season as the club gets ready to take on the Rochdale Alliance Saturday League Premier Division.

“It should be a good winter,” said Gale.

“We launched the team two years ago with the aim of keeping everyone together while the cricket isn’t on, but there’s been plenty of interest and we have a good side now; a lot of lads are good cricketers and good footballers as well.

“Amateur football is obviously unpredictable but, like any team, we want to win things.

“We get our league season started soon so we’ll just see where it takes us.”