This week's preview comes courtesy of Richard Blackburn. The Blackburn surname features prominently in the archives of CCC, with dad Stephen, uncles Richard (senior) and Martin, and, most prominently, granddad Malcolm, all having represented the club's senior sides. Also adding to the Blackburn cricket dynasty is brother James, who will return from Cheshire with his Ashton side for a friendly on Saturday 15th April. So some big shoes to fill for the hard-hitting batsman as he steps into the role of the 3rd XI skipper for 2018.
Rick this is your first season as 3rd XI captain, any pressure?! and what are you looking forward to about the role?
There’s undoubtedly pressure in stepping up from playing the pinch-hitter role to leading the side!
From my perspective there is a little bit of the pressure eased with having moved into the Lancs League as there’s no benchmark for success compared to my predecessor. The 3rds have been very well guided in the last three years by Dinny with securing the title in 2 of 3 seasons, which as Meatloaf would say, 'ain’t bad'. Moving into a new league with a blank slate is refreshing in that we can concentrate on taking each game as they come rather than panicking about results going on elsewhere and worrying if we aren’t where we expect to be.
I’m looking forward to building on the foundation that I’ve inherited. We’ve got plenty of promising young players who deserve to be playing, and with a few older heads to provide some experience I think we’ve a chance to do well this year. I do feel a bit of pressure in picking a vice skipper though, I need to find the Dibb to my Gaskell, the Musson to my Greeno…or the Bailey to my Dinsdale!
The 3 seasons since you came back to CCC have been particularly successful for you...What have been your highlights?
I can’t take all the credit for the Club’s success, honestly, it’s very much a team effort at CCC! In all seriousness, after having a few years away from the game it has been great just to be back involved at the Club, there’s a great atmosphere at Chatburn Road at present.
In terms of achievements, to play a part in the 3rds winning the league in my first season back was great, especially with my brother returning and playing in the side too. Dinni and Bails brought a few former players in their 20s back to playing and we had a great team spirit that year. After that, I really enjoyed playing in the 2nds in 2015. As John said in his preview it was a close-fought title race with Salesbury and Stacksteads that season in which we eventually came out on top – there was a nice bit of symmetry there too, as the last time the 2nds won the league my Dad, 'Sipper', was part of the team!
I was humbled to play in a couple of T20 games for the 1sts in 2015, but for me the charity T20 games we’ve played against Waddington have been a real highlight. Big crowds, beers in-between overs and Bails on the decks – the perfect stage for a slogger like me!
How are the team/club getting ready for our first Lancs League season? Have you noticed any changes?
Preparations for the season seem to have ramped up a notch from previous years. I never had myself down as a fighter, and attending pre-season boxing training certainly proved that…fair play to Marcus and Mully for sticking it out for each of the sessions, they were punishing. We’ve also started our block of winter netting sessions and have some pro coaches involved which is certainly an improvement on previous years.
From the 3rd team perspective I do need to have a sit-down with Dinni at some point and have a hand-over / learn what I’m supposed to be doing! I think the best part of taking over is inheriting the purple Disney Princess bag for keeping match balls / subs in – I’m pretty sure that’s what has inspired our success in the last few seasons.
What are your impressions of the Lancs League and what are you looking forward to about leading your side in 2017?
There’s no avoiding the reputation the League has. Just looking at some of the names that have graced the field in previous years is awe-inspiring to be involved with. It will be interesting for me personally to be going to a whole new set of grounds that I’ve not played at previously – with the exception of East Lancs and Great Harwood each ground we visit on our travels will be a novelty. I’ll be taking a lot of advice from the youngsters in the side who have played their junior cricket in the Lancashire League for the last few years and hopefully they’ll give me some helpful pointers when it comes to the toss.
What does a successful season look like both for you, the team, and the club's perspective i.e. other teams and social side?
There’s definitely a lot of excitement around the Club about taking on the challenge of the new league. When you couple that with the winning mentality that each of the teams have it promises to be an exciting mix, and hopefully at the end of the season each of the teams are pushing for the top spots. In the last few seasons the 3rds have seen some great cricket being played by the younger lads in the side, and for me a successful season will involve seeing more of the same. At the risk of leaving out certain performances, off the top of my head we’ve seen Harry Lang top the league batting stats in 2015 (including a ton against our local rivals); Callum Birtwell-Jones contributing on all fronts with hat-tricks, big scores under pressure (away at Padiham with Sam Mulligan), and a fielding award in 2016; Angus Spencer bowling 6-19 away at Euxton, and plenty of other solid performances across the season.
The social side of the club has been great over the last few seasons, and hopefully that continues to expand in 2017. One of the highlights has to be hosting the Ramsbottom Cup Final last year. I’ve not seen the Club as busy as that in my lifetime, and it would be great to see similarly large crowds watching the lads again in 2017. For a promotional push, you can’t really beat a sunny day at Chatburn Road with cricket on and then plenty of drink into the evening on the outfield, so hopefully the weather is kind this year and the uptake on the CCC Supporters Cards is a big one!
CLITHEROE CC 3rd XI
Leading run scorer?
I think 2017 is going to be the year that Mr Joseph Nutter lives up to his promise of a 500 run season…I’m backing him all the way. We have plenty of lads across the board who could lay claim to the top scorer title, and I would anticipate a few lads have their eye on 2nd XI cricket this year, so it’s a tough one to call! If there’s a contest for highest strike rate I’d be interested to see who comes out on top between Joey, Spinky, and myself!
Leading wicket taker?
A very tough one to call. I could probably name each of our bowlers from last year and say they have a shout. I’ll put my money on the line and go with Jimbob Scorah – he’s had a growth spurt over the winter and with spending a few months training with the Marines I can see him taking no prisoners from the Pendle School End!
Youngster to watch out for?
Jamie Birtwell-Jones. Another one who has grown over the off-season. Jamie bowled consistently well opening up for us last year and had some important contributions with the bat under pressure. I’m looking forward to seeing him kick on and start rivalling his big brother for hat-tricks!
Any other predictions?
Travis ‘John West’ Blezard to turn up 5-10 overs into the game on 22nd April.
Joe Nutter to seek out and destroy another chicken coop.
Player to watch (1st XI): I’m looking forward to seeing the new pro in action, and seeing how many impossible catches Charlie Dewhurst takes in the field again this year.
Future star: I think Greeno mentioned Charlie Atkinson, so I’ll go with Hammad Amin – I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a bat or ball in his hand, and even at his age he doesn’t look out of place bowling at the seniors in the nets.
Where would you like to see the club in 12 months time?
Hopefully getting ready to defend a title or two prior to the 2018 season!
Updated 08:21 - 24 Mar 2017 by Web Manager