OSWALDTWISTLE are hoping for better things in the Vaux Ribblesdale League this time around and both the team and their new professional have enjoyed a promising start.

The opening day of the season saw them record a nine wicket win over Blackburn Northern with Zahir Abbass Hanif scoring an unbeaten 48. And with a trip to perennial strugglers Settle - with their own new professional Surendra Bhave - tomorrow Oswaldtwistle have the chance to get among the early front-runners.

Hanif made an instant impression despite the cold weather which came as a bit of a shock to the system.

"He looks a good bat and I think his first three scoring shots were sixes," said skipper Martin Hayes who is optimistic about improving on last season's fourth bottom place.

"We have also got Graeme Parkinson from Darwen who should strengthen the batting. It's just depends whether we get enough runs on the board because, if there is a weakness, it's in the bowling."

Hanif was disappointed not to strike against Blackburn with his medium pacers. I could probably have got a few wickets but it was a bit cold and it was quite difficult but at least I had a few runs," he said.

"I hope the wickets dry up a bit but I will have to make the most of it because the weather is very funny here. I am settling in alright. It's my first time here and we'll see how it goes but I am looking forward to it."

The 24-year-old will feel more at home from today when his team-mate and friend from Guyana, spinner Neil McGarrell, arrives to take up his post with Church in the Lancashire League.

Hanif joined McGarrell, who forced his way into the West Indies one-day side against England this winter, in the Guyana team for two games this season and also plays for the Georgetown club at Bourda.

He could hardly have chosen another avenue to go down with such a famous cricketing name which he attributes to his grandfather. "He was a cricketer. He did not represent his country but he loved the game. It's a great name," said Hanif. Other fixtures: Barnoldswick v Edenfield; Cherry Tree v Great Harwood; Earby v Baxenden; Padiham v Ribb W; Read v Clitheroe; Whalley v Blackburn N

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