THERE is some bad news for the Lancashire League's batsmen - they have yet to see the best of Gyanendra Pandey.

The Indian international is back for his second successive season with Todmorden and is determined to better his performances of last season.

His record last term was 70 wickets at a very economical 21.6 average, while he knocked off 902 runs at 60.1, and the Uttar Pradesh skipper is sure he can improve on that return.

And that is not least because he now feels he has got the hang of the Lancashire tracks.

"At home you are used to bowling on dry wickets," said Pandey.

"In India there is no heavy rain, so Indian wickets are hard wickets, and I feel that I have to adjust for the wickets here.

"Last season gave me a lot of good experience of the difference, so hopefully I'll have no problem this year."

Add into the equation the fact that Gyan now has his wife and children across in Todmorden and you have an all-rounder who is settled and ready to show his very best.

"I am happy to be back in Todmorden. I was very keen to come back and this year I will be more settled as I have my family over," he said.

"The club was good to me last year and to have my family here is a big help for me.

"I will try my best to beat the runs and wickets that I had last season.

"Every player, every year wants to improve on what they have done before.

"To get 1,000 would be nice, but my batting has not been so good at the start and I am taking time to get into form, but it's okay on the bowling front."

To be unhappy at a 'slow' start that saw Pandey collect a match-winning unbeaten 61 against local rivals Bacup at the weekend suggests he will not be happy until he is racking up the tons again.

That should not be far away as the runs continued to come for him in his home season in India, where he had some good knocks for Uttar Pradesh.

"My side at home is a strong side. Bombay are the best but 'UP' beat them," said Pandey.

"We have three players who are playing Tests and one-days, so we are doing great.

"I was happy as captain because we played well and I played well and we had good performances against good sides like Punjab and Delhi."

And Gyan has experienced cricket at the very highest level as his one-day international call-ups in 1998 pitted him against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Pepsi Cup.

"Playing against Pakistan was a great experience," he said.

"Playing in front of a huge crowd, with a huge noise - it was hard to concentrate on your game."

But Todmorden are not upping the ante too much as far as this season is concerned.

A seventh place finish last term with a young side was impressive enough and Pandey feels that the club needs to grow and be happy with the fact their long-term future looks bright.

And the youngsters will get their chance as the return of Ibra Ali to Widnes means the Centre Vale club are denuded of a twin-spin attack that produced 140 wickets last term.

"We are working on bowling well from both ends this season," said Pandey.

"We did well last summer with Ibra, but now we have to adjust a little.

"At Todmorden I want to try and help the young players through, both on the pitch and coaching.

"But I feel we will do similarly to last year and if we can win 12 or 13 of our matches we will be doing well.

"But the team is good because we have young players who can play for Todmorden for years."



Date of birth: August 12, 1972

Place of birth: Lucknow, India

Bats: Left-hand middle order

Bowls: Left arm spin

International Hons: Two ODIs for India against Pakistan in the 1998 Pepsi Cup

Indian Hons: Captain of Uttar Pradesh with batting average of 37.1 and bowling average of 34.7 in State cricket

Lancashire League Hons: 2003 season 70 wickets at 21.6 and 902 runs at 60.1

Telegraph Reporter