If you’re heading to Padiham for a Friday night Birtwistle Cup T20 fixture over the next few weeks, you can expect an evening of fun and frolics. Just watch out if you’re an opposition batter, writes Graham Hardcastle.

“We’re quite fortunate to have one of the only beer gardens in our area, and everyone around here likes a drink,” chuckled former captain Owen Deakin-Pickard.

“The cricket’s a social event, and the view we have at the club helps. We have a banking which views right across the ground.

“Everyone seems to come up on a Friday even if they don’t necessarily come to watch cricket.

“When the weather’s good, 500 is definitely a crowd. Even if only 100-200 of those are buying the drinks, you’re talking a good financial return.

“The only unfortunate thing is we don’t have the biggest of bars to facilitate it. But we get there with things like can bars that people can take away. It works.

“We’ll have a singer on afterwards and a sound system on during the game to fall in with wickets and sixes. We try to keep people around for as long as possible.”

Deakin-Pickard was asked whether that sound system extends to walk-on songs to accompany batters to the crease.

“We have done in the past, but I don’t think we’re doing it this year,” he said. “You do get stitched up with that kind of thing, especially as an opposition player - maybe one who’s played here before. But it’s all good fun.

“It’s a chance of a trophy, but in the grand scheme of things - as long as the weather’s there - it’s great for the club because of the financial benefits.”

Padiham are in Group Two North, with the top two of six teams from all four groups advancing to the quarter-finals (July 14) before Finals Day (July 23). Last year’s Ribblesdale League T20 champions Feniscowles are in the same group.

Padiham travel to Cherry Tree for tonight’s opener before their first home game is against Read on June 9.

Padiham won at Brinscall in the league on Saturday, but it hasn’t been the most straightforward of starts to the new Anthony Axford North West Cricket League Premiership campaign.

They were highlighted in pre-season as title dark horses, but they have won two, lost two and had the other abandoned and currently sit in the bottom half of the table.

“It’s not been the best start for us,” said Deakin-Pickard. “I’ve stepped down as captain, and Toby Burrows has taken over. Toby is definitely the right man.

“It’s a weird one. There’s been a lot of expectation on us.

“We have a lot of batters who like to hit the ball, and maybe the decks haven’t suited our style. Maybe we haven’t been as patient as we should have been.”

With that in mind, perhaps T20 comes at a good time?

“It’s a different format, and your batters have the opportunity to hit themselves into form. Even a quick-fire 20 can get you going.

“We’ve got a very aggressive batting line-up, so we enjoy T20 even though we’ve not done as well as we’d have liked in recent years.

“But I’m sure things will turn around for us.”

The likelihood is that Padiham, who were raising money for Burnley charity Casual Minds Matter during a friendly against Lowerhouse last Friday, will blood some youngsters in the T20s.

“It’s a great chance to do that,” added Deakin-Pickard.

“Playing in front of the crowds, it’s good to see how they deal with the pressure.

"It can be intimidating, but that’s part and parcel of T20 and developing as a cricketer.”

Birtwistle Cup fixtures, Friday May 26, all 6pm starts.

Group One North: Barnoldswick v Ribblesdale Wanderers, Baxenden v Whalley, Earby v Salesbury.

Group Two North: Cherry Tree v Padiham, Read v Oswaldtwistle Immanuel, Feniscowles v Settle (June 2).

Group Three South: Astley Bridge v Lostock, Blackrod v Eagley, Farnworth Social Circle v Walkden.

Group Four South: Farnworth v Atherton, Little Lever v Kearsley, Tonge v Brinscall.