With preseason action beginning this weekend, and the start of the Lancashire League season just 1 week away, we caught up with 1st team seamer Marcus Sharp.
Marcus is arguably the finest bowler that our town of Clitheroe has ever produced, with a playing career comprising spells as a professional at the likes of Blackpool and Lytham; whilst he also represented Cumberland with distinction in minor counties cricket. Indeed Marcus' outstanding performances saw him represent the minor counties XI on numerous occasions, arguably the most notable of which was a touring match against the west Indies, where he counted the great Brian Lara amongst his 3 victims in a typically economical spell! His professional career has been bookended by 2 spells at his hometown club of Clitheroe...and he seems as excited as us all about the new campaign!
You returned back to the club in 2015...How did that come about?
I had the best part of a couple of seasons out with a shoulder injury and with a growing family I didn't feel I could give the commitment needed for first team cricket, but Gask thought differently.
What has changed since you left?
Coming back to the Ribblesdale League was a bit of a surprise. When I left 25 years ago there were some very tough older competitors around the league (David Halliwell, Malcolm Dennett, Stephen Hipgrave and others) some good strength in depth in a lot of teams and a lot of decent cricket played. Sadly that situation seems to have changed and I hope it comes full circle and strengthens again.
And what have been your highlights so far?
I have never played in such a successful team so winning the treble in our last season with the Ramsbottom Cup final at home was tremendous to be part of.
Across your 2 spells at the club how does the current side rank?
How can you compare Marciano and Ali, Nicklaus and Woods, Fawcett and Dibb, Dewhurst and Dewhurst? The current team I think would probably shade it.
Who are the best players you've played with and against for CCC?
Janaka Gunaratne is one of the best players I've played with anywhere (not just at CCC), a real class act with the bat, effective with the ball and took some great catches. I played against Earby's Glen Chapple in my first spell at the club and with nearly 1000 first class wickets he'd take some beating.
Back to this season, how is the team/club getting ready for our first Lancs League season?
Riding a wave of positivity, I've never known anywhere so up for the challenge. Slightly disappointed we didn't get more at the boxing training, maybe Sam and I psyched them out.... but turn out for nets has been very good.
Have you noticed any changes?
There's a real drive around the club that seems to have been there for a good while but now all the interest and focus is on the upcoming season. It's rare that big change is so wholeheartedly embraced by everyone affected.
You've had an illustrious career playing cricket both around the county and further afield, what are your expectations about the Lancs league?
I don't know what to expect, I played at a few of the grounds as a junior but other than that it will be as new to me as everyone else. Playing on Sunday used to leave them out of sync for cup games in the Lancs and National KOs so we never came into contact, which made them seem a little insular, but that's changed over the last few years especially as the league looks to expand.
What are you looking forward to about the Lancs league?
Doing well. I think we have a good team with depth and over the last couple of years we haven't really been regularly pushed. I want to see how we respond to that.
What does a successful season look like?
I'm honestly not sure, whenever you see these predictions written down they either seem arrogant or downbeat and we are neither. I would hope we still have something to play for at the back end of the season.
Do we need to do anything different to achieve these goals?
Learn to deal with defeat, which is likely to happen this year, and be able to move on from it.
Leading run scorer?
The pro has a tremendous 1st class record, I'm looking forward to watching him. It sounds like Jack Dewhurst has had a good season in Oz so hopefully that continues.
Leading wicket taker?
Very difficult to predict you can perm any one from about 5. The pro will have to hit the ground running or he might not get a chuck!
Youngster to watch out for?
Sam Mulligan was very impressive for his temperament as much as anything last year. There will be more opportunities for Chas this year as well.
Any other predictions?
Sales of fruit cider to rocket throughout the league. Our webmaster to require rescuing from a fracas on more than one occasion. These two predictions may have a link...
Updated 10:20 - 7 Apr 2017 by Web Manager
Where would you like to see the club in 12 months time?
I liked Richard Blackburn's answer to this so I'm going to nick it. Preparing to defend a title or two!