South African overseas amateur Justin Gilliland hit a fabulous unbeaten 107 in a big Barnoldswick win over Baxenden on Saturday and then earned high praise from his captain Matt Cavanagh, writes Graham Hardcastle.

The wicketkeeper opener played a key role in his side’s thumping 189-run home win, their second from six games in the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League’s Premiership.

Gilliland, aged 23, returned the key contribution in his side’s 271-1 from 45 overs, sharing an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 254 with Indian sub professional Chirag Khurana from Bacup, who added an unbeaten 94 after answering a last-minute call to play.

Gilliland hit 12 fours and two sixes in 120 balls and has enjoyed a bright start to his first season with Barnoldswick, previously scoring two fifties. 

But this was the Western Province product’s standout contribution. Baxenden were bowled out for just 82 inside 22 overs, with new ball seamer Sajid Akhtar claiming 5-23 from nine overs. 


“You can be good at cricket, which Justin clearly is,” said Cavanagh. “But he’s also a top guy - a really nice kid. He works really hard and could have kicked on in previous games. But out of everyone, he deserves this. It was a brilliant knock.”

Khurana was drafted in at 10pm on Friday after regular pro Upul Indrasiri suffered a messy dislocated finger playing a Birtwistle Cup T20 game earlier that night.

“He’s fitted into the team really well as well,” said Cavanagh. “When you walk into the dressing room last minute and don’t know people, it can be really hard. But him and Justin worked really well together after I got out early.

“If you asked me what word I would use to sum that win up, I would say comprehensive.

“It’s the first time the ground’s been hard all season. With the weather we’ve had, we’ve struggled to get it into a decent shape. But the deck’s been good, and it was quick. 

“We bowled really well, tight and wicket to wicket. Getting their pro and overseas early on helped us.”

In consigning Baxenden to a sixth straight defeat - they are second-bottom above Walkden - Akhtar claimed two of his wickets caught behind by Gilliland, while Hafeez Ul-Wahab also struck three times.

“Saj is a swing bowler with a lot of experience,” said Cavanagh. “He’s played at the club for over 20 years now, and he’s a really useful opening bowler.

“We were ruthless in defending that total. In the past, we’ve had teams 50-5 and have let teams get 150-160. In this, we put our foot down. It was really impressive.”

Cavanagh is encouraged by the progression shown by his team and has set out their target for the rest of the summer. 

“Little Lever the other week we got 225, and we’re starting to see progression in ourselves - partnerships being built, that sort of thing,” he added.

“Our aim is to finish in the top 12. For where we are as a club at the minute, that’s realistic. I’d be pleased if we can do that, and then we could push forwards next year.”