ACCRINGTON professional Ockert Erasmus believes it’s not too late for the defending Foster’s Lancashire League champions to mount a title challenge – and insists the ups and downs of this season are all part and parcel of cricket.

The 26-year-old, who replaced Ashar Zaidi at Thorneyholme Road after spending three years with East Lancashire, admits the odds are stacked against a title defence but knows his side, who are 34 points behind Lowerhouse with 12 games to play, could yet get into the mix if they can find their rhythm.

Their cause has not been helped by the long-term loss of injured seamer David Ormerod and the regular absence of former Lancashire star Graham Lloyd to his First Class umpiring duties but Erasmus wants Accrington to forget their bad day in defeat at Rawtenstall on Sunday and press forwards remembering the positive points.

“We have had highs and lows this year but I think it was going to be a different season because in his two years here Ashar scored millions of runs and took thousands of wickets and was a game-changer week in, week out,” said Erasmus.

“And losing Dibber (Ormerod) and Lloydy would weaken any side so given that I don’t feel we are doing too badly. Yes, Sunday was a bad day but we need to forget that and look to the last 12 games but when you have had success people always expect it – and that isn’t the way cricket is.

“One game you can score a huge ton and the next day you can get out first ball. It’s the ups and downs of the sport – and that’s why we all love the game.”

Had Accrington beaten Rawtenstall at the Worswick Memorial Ground they would have been in fifth spot rather than their current seventh but the South African all-rounder says with so much cricket to be played it is too soon to be writing anyone off.

“A win on Sunday and we would have been really in touch but we have a lot of the sides above us still to play and that 34 point gap can soon change with double headers and the possibility of 24-point weekends,” he added.

“A few top sides are also losing their professionals before the end of the season and when you sign a sub-pro you never really know what you are going to get until the match.

“The league is also stronger this season and it is good to see several teams challenging at the top. But there are no certainties and even the sides at the bottom are capable of beating those at the top.

“But it’s about what we do at Accrington between now and September.”