More glory for Walsden
Walsden confirmed themselves as instant hits in the Lancashire League by bringing the championship trophy back to Scott Street at the first attempt yesterday.
Six wickets from Sri Lankan Umesh Karunratne and 59 not out from skipper Nick Barker saw them to a five-wicket success at Rawtenstall on the final day of the season.
It means they have finished six points clear of Lowerhouse at the top of the table and 12 points ahead of third-placed Ramsbottom.
It was Walsden’s third title in three years, after consecutive successes in the short-lived Pennine League.
A day to remember for the club was completed when the seconds clinched their title and Todmorden firsts scraped a place in the top division next season, ensuring home and away derby fixtures against Walsden.
Rain earlier in the day ramped up the tension for Walsden, who had missed a chance to become champions the previous weekend when their unbeaten league record for 2018 fell to Darwen.
The match at Rawtenstall’s Worswick Memorial Ground started on time but two rain breaks results in a 44 overs-a-side contest.
Indian sub professional Kaustubh Pawar was a major stumbling block for Walsden, striking his 10th century of the season.
He hit 106 off 116 balls for Rawtenstall and was seventh out with the total on 172.
The 17 extras was the next highest contribution as Karunaratne dismissed six of the top eight home batsmen to return figures of 6-60. Jake Hooson picked up the last two wickets in quick succession as Rawtenstall posted 182.
Walsden lost Josh Gale for 13 with the score on 24 but a stand of 63 between Hooson (37) and Nick Barker put the visitors on course.
The departures of Karunaratne (14) and James Rawlinson (0) left Walsden 108-4 but Barker was still there and Joe Gale hit a 22-ball 39 in the fading light, slamming three sixes, before falling with victory in sight.
Long-serving wicket keeper Matt Dawson (11 no) hit the winning runs.
Walsden seconds beat their Rawtenstall counterparts at home to ensure they also finished top and the club will hope to make it a clean sweep of senior titles when their thirds host Ramsbottom next Saturday in a game rained off two days ago.
Todmorden gave a solid display under pressure to beat Bacup by 72 runs at Centre Vale. They moved into the top half of the table ahead of the split into two sections next year at the expense of Nelson, who were dismissed for 49 at Rochdale and lost by six wickets.
Ben Sutcliffe’s 51 not out from 41 balls proved the key innings as Tod posted 224-7 off 43 overs against their lowly visitors. Pro Chris Schofield (42), Ben Pearson (36) and skipper Andrew Sutcliffe (31) also chipped in.
Highly-promising Noah Priestley took 4-32 and Fiaz Rasool 3-30 to dismiss Bacup out for 152. Sub professional James Franklin, the ex-New Zealand Test player, added 38 to his earlier 4-47 for Bacup.