Ribblesdale League Sunday: Gunar fires Clitheroe title bid

Janaka Gunaratne

Janaka Gunaratne

First published in Sport

Janaka Gunaratne blasted his way into the Houldsworth Ribblesdale League history books as Clitheroe went run crazy in cementing their place as senior division leaders.

But while the Sri Lankan all-rounder and his team mates blitzed Cherry Tree's bowlers to all parts of Preston Old Road in reaching 314-3, title challengers Earby slumped to a seasonal low of just 34 at home to Euxton.

Clitheroe's top 'Gunar' struck a sensational 133 ball, undefeated 210 not out including 18 sixes and 15 boundaries. The 33-year-old's total was the fourth highest in league history.

Australian Jake Brown holds the record, making 237 on debut for Ribblesdale Wanderers against Blackburn Northern in 2009, Kashif Siddique compiled 233 for Padiham against Wanderers in 2007 while Baber Naeem hit an unbeaten 226 not out for Baxenden when Wanderers were again on the receiving end three years ago. Russell Whalley also scored 214 for Great Harwood in a Ramsbottom Cup tie against Ribblesdale in 2003.

Gunaratne's unbroken fourth wicket partnership of 285 with Peter Dibb (67*) was an all-time league best. It topped last season's 214 between Dibb and Craig Thyssen and is the second highest total for any wicket.

It has been bettered only by a 294 first wicket partnership in 1991 for Ribblesdale between Peter Sleep and the late Dave Cottam who died from cancer last year.

Tom Lord then took 7-42 as Cherry Tree were bowled out for 190 to complete a double winning weekend for the Chatburn Road side. It followed their big win 24 hours earlier against Brinscall. Gunaratne made 70 and Naeem Ashraf 66*out of the home team's 280-6. Jack Dewhurst returned figures of 5-7 to help dismiss Brinscall for 102.

Earby's three wicket win against Baxenden on Saturday was followed by Sunday's shock collapse against Euxton. Chasing the visitors' 169 (Oliver Marsden 80), Earby slumped to 34 all out with Preston White (6-17) and Louis Sweeney (4-16) sharing the wickets. Richard Craddock top scored with 14.

Clitheroe now hold a 13 point lead at the top of the table over Earby with a magnificent seven wins from seven. Whalley are third with a game in hand after they also claimed back to back victories, largely due to Wilkin Mota's ability with bat and ball.

Mota top scored with 69 in Sunday's 48 run win over Barnoldswick and 7-34 in Saturday's success at Settle. However, Settle bounced back in style to complete a terrible two days for former title contenders, Read.

Imran Khalid smashed 10 fours and six sixes in his 112 ball innings of 123 out of Settle's 248. South African Brandon Scullard claimed seven visiting batsmen for 76.

Read, who made only 128 in losing by eight wickets at Barnoldswick on Saturday, managed only four runs more in crashing to another disappointing loss. Great Harwood are fourth after beating bottom of the table Brooksbottom and Padiham.

Harwood's Stuart Maher finished the weekend with a cumulative analysis of 12-65 while Aussie Jack Wildermuth hit a total of 128 from two undefeated innings. Brooksbottom continue to prop up the table with just four points from their opening six games.

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