IT’S a decade since Burnley professional Chris Holt first witnessed a Worsley Cup final – and as he watched Lowerhouse beat Haslingden to claim their first piece of silverware, he became hooked on the spectacle of a knockout competition known in cricketing circles the world over.
The huge crowd at Liverpool Road and the atmosphere of the day drew in the then 15-year-old Holt and ever since then the Worsley Cup has held a special place in his heart.
And tomorrow the now accomplished and respected 25-year-old all-rounder gets the chance to take to the field in the famed competition as the defending champions step out against Colne, the side who Holt played for in his only previous Worsley Cup appearance.
“It’s a great competition, it really is,” said Holt. “My dad took me to the final in 2004 when Lowerhouse played Haslingden and I couldn’t believe it.
“There was a huge crowd on and the atmosphere was incredible – and as I watched it I thought ‘I really want to play in that final’.”
During his one season as an amateur at Colne in 2008, Holt didn’t get much chance to shine in the Worsley Cup.
Playing Lowerhouse, his bowling was expensive and he was run out for a duck as Colne exited at the first round stage.
And Colne will try to spoil Holt’s day at Turf Moor as the stuttering holders, who have lost all their four league games so far this season, bid to put a marker down.
“It was a great day when Burnley won it last season,” said Holt, who was Padiham professional last season and was in one of the Turf Moor hospitality tents for the win over Haslingden.
“People want to have days like that and even though it’s only a first round tie there is an extra buzz in the cup.
“We haven’t had a good start but I know that we can click and get on a run. I don’t think we have played badly and personally I have been doing okay, there’s just been the odd thing going against us.”
Burnley chairman and former Middlesex, Hampshire and Surrey opener Michael Brown plays tomorrow as does his brother and ex-Glamorgan man David as well as Derbyshire’s Jonathan Clare.
And Holt says that is good for everyone at the club.
“Michael brings so much to the table,” he said. “His talent goes without saying but he does so much behind the scenes and when he plays it lifts everyone.
“And hopefully we can click tomorrow and get into round two.”
In what is a cracking first round, there are several stand-out ties with Accrington and Lowerhouse colliding in a heavyweight clash at Thorneyholme Road.
Accrington are doing well as they look to defend their league title, while Lowerhouse are shaping up after a slow start. And while the hosts are missing former Lancashire man Graham Lloyd – he is third umpire for the televised Somerset v Surrey T20 Blast match – and the injured David Ormerod, professional Ockert Erasmus is relishing the game.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I know from my East Lancashire days what a good side Lowerhouse are – and this is a big game.”
East Lancashire and Enfield is also too close to call, while Haslingden are determined to make up for the disappointment of losing last year’s final and start at home to Bacup.
Church, who were runners-up in both 2011 and 2012, go looking for revenge at last year’s beaten semi-finalists Nelson after Neil Thompson’s men stunned them in the league a fortnight ago, while early league leaders Rawtenstall welcome Rishton to the Worswick Memorial Ground.
Club great Andrew Payne dusts off his whites to play as a batsman for Vinny Hanson’s men while Pete Wrathmell also returns after missing today’s trip to Enfield.
Ramsbottom and Todmorden have byes through the first round tie. And Rammy are making sure the day is not wasted as they host Liverpool Competition big hitters Bootle at Acre Bottom in the first round of the LCB Lancashire Cup.