On the hottest day of the year and on a ground sporting views for miles up the Ribble Valley beyond Pendle Hill to the three peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Wernside, Clitheroe beat the home side, Salesbury, while last year’s champions, Baxenden, where Ian Austin now plays his cricket, lost to Whalley, home of the first Match of the Roses. So last night Clitheroe topped the Ribblesdale League.
Victory had not been easy. Clitheroe were two wickets down without scoring and then 50 for five before toughing it out on a track with steep bounce, rare in these rain-blest parts, and finding their way to 160 all out.
The homes side also lost early wickets but their professional, the son of the Australian wrist spinner Peter Sleep, stitched the tail together and took the score onwards and upwards under a barrage of short bowling.
Eventually the spinner was called for and the final three wickets fell in a tumble with Sleep bowled with a ball that went through the gate and clipped the top of off stump.
Note well young captains: if the track is bouncing for pace it will also bounce for spin properly bowled with flight and dip.
In the photograph of the Salesbury ground above, Pendle Hill can be glimsped through the haze to the right of the nets. The bowler coming back for his second spell and warming up with a ball to mid-on is the 42 year old Tasmanian and now Clitheroe stalwart Josh Marquet.