Lancashire League

HAMISH ANTHONY travelled over to take up his post as Haslingden's professional in exalted company.

But the reigning Lancashire League champions will be hoping Anthony makes a rather more explosive start to the campaign than his flying companion Brian Lara.

Both have been hamstrung by the weather but with a double header this weekend Anthony was looking to build up a head of steam after last Sunday's rain ruined opener when Haslingden reduced Enfield to 121-8 before the weather intervened.

And Sunday's visit to Todmorden gives the Leeward Islander an extra incentive to produce the goods as he comes up against Vasbert Drakes.

There are six West Indian professionals in the league this season and their camaraderie and rivalry promises to give an extra edge to a number of fixtures.

"It will be a good competition this year and I am looking forward to it.

"We want to beat each other and I will be working hard in Sunday's game tand trying to win," said Anthony.

"When we play against each other we talk about it back home if we beat them."

However, Anthony is expecting a difficult test against Drakes who played county cricket for Sussex last season and toured England with the West Indies the summer before. "He's a good player. He will do well because he bats and bowls," added Anthony.

Nevertheless the former Glamorgan quickie believes Haslingden will take a lot of beating as they attempt to hang on to their crown.

"For people to beat us they will have to work very hard," predicted Anthony who is back at Bentgate after three successful outings as a substitute professional for the club last season.

One of those was in the final of the Jennings Worsley Cup when his five wickets helped Haslingden lift the trophy. He also weighed in with 12 league wickets to go with the 81 he took for Littleborough in the Central Lancashire League.

"The guys are a good bunch and I enjoyed playing in the couple of games I had last year. I fit in well," said Anthony who is hoping for an upturn in the weather to chase a bold target.

"If the weather holds up every year I try to get 100 wickets and 800 or even close to 1,000 runs. The main thing though is to win the league title and other cups."

If Anthony gets close to his target then Haslingden are sure to go close themselves, although like many others Anthony believes wins could be hard to come by given the new rules.

That's where he may have to earn his corn in bowling out sides in the second innings so the sooner the sun shines and the pitches firm up the better as far as he is concerned.

Other fixtures: Accrington v Lowerhouse; Burnley v Church; East Lancs v Bacup; Nelson v Rishton; Ramsbottom v Enfield; Rawtenstall v Colne

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