|Accrington Cricket Club|
Nathan Astle returned for the 2000 season as the club made further progress up the table to ninth place with 144 points, having won 11 matches. Astle scored 812 runs at 47.8, including two centuries, and he also took 60 wickets at 13.0. Again he left prematurely, returning home in August for a New Zealand tour to Singapore. His replacement Tama Canning made such a good impression that he was offered terms when Astle had to pull out of a return in the 2001 season. A native of Adelaide, South Australia, Canning played for Western Australia before moving to New Zealand to play for Auckland. He scored 265 runs at 53.0 and he took 21 wickets at 16.5 in six matches. Skipper Mas Ahmed was again the leading amateur batsman, scoring 359 runs at 16.3. Matt Wilson (303 runs at 15.3), Steve Birtwistle (226 runs at 12.6), Mus Ahmed (225 runs at 12.5), Tariq Hussain (242 runs at 12.1) and Sajed Sadiq (162 runs at 14.7, including an unbeaten 72) offered the most support. Three bowlers took over 20 wickets; Damian Clarke (24 at 28.5), Steve Juliff (23 at 18.7) and Tariq Hussain (21 at 28.0)
galore but no success
year-old record goes
Big Guy's Back
The professional Tama Canning was a pale shadow of the player who had won eight matches off his own bat the previous season. Canning came late due to domestic commitments and when he arrived he brought with him a knee injury which would cause him to miss just two matches, but he was far from fit for some time into the season.
Canning's statistics tell a sad tale. His 534 runs at 24.3 left only Haslingden's Pasan Wanasinghe behind him in the averages. Canning's 43 wickets at 29.2 were by far the most expensive of any professional with just one five wicket haul to show in a total of 376.2 overs. So it was hardly surprising that the team fared so badly.
Accrington's sole league victories were back to back matches at the end of July against Nelson and Haslingden after 16 successive defeats. After coming so close against Enfield on the previous day, it looked to be the same old story as Accrington chased a target of 185 for that elusive first victory but cometh the hour cometh the man as Tariq Hussain took the match by the scruff of the neck with his side slipping to just 1 wicket from another defeat with 22 runs still needed off 9 balls. The all rounder hit Nathan Hauritz for successive sixes to bring the target down to 10 from 7 balls. Hauritz then bowled a no ball which Hussain dispatched for four, followed by another huge six to notch Accrington's first win in 11 months.
The following Sunday at Thorneyholme Road Accrington celebrated a second successive win this time over defending champions Haslingden. Struggling at 54-4, the Wilson brothers led the fightback with skipper Matt returning to the fray to make an unbeaten 27 after having to retire hurt with a back injury. Adam Wilson made a career best 46, Graeme Sneddon 20, Andy Greenwood 20 and Mick Horsfield 11 to take the home side to 180. Zed Afzal then took 6-68 and Canning 4-51 as Accrington won at home for the first time since 18th July last year.
Mohsin Ahmed finished as leading run scorer for the fourth season in a row, hitting 573 runs at 22.0, 39 more than Canning achieved, a fact even more remarkable because his season began with successive ducks. Mohsin has been a regular for four seasons, during which he has scored 2095 runs, a four year total only bettered by Graham Beech at his peak in the club's entire history. This is a superb achievement especially with the team struggling. Another star performer was Zahir Afzal, who hit 484 runs, including two half centuries, and he also took 30 wickets. Skipper Matt Wilson had his best season with the bat, hitting 474 runs at 26.3. Once he moved himself up the order, Wilson flourished. He also kept wicket after Adam Barnes stepped down. The return of Tariq Hussain brought some moments of brilliance from the talented all rounder. His match winning knock at Nelson and his half century at Werneth showed glimpses of his batting ability and his 8-44 against Lowerhouse was the best amateur bowling figures of the season. Hussain also took 8-98 against East Lancs but injury restricted his bowling and he finished with 37 wickets. His strike rate, 23.97, was the best of any amateur bowler. Only East Lancs professional Loots Bosman bettered this. Stuart Crabtree also showed some promise, his unbeaten 72 at Rishton was his best knock in a total of 249 runs but Graeme Sneddon's average of 9.8 from 216 runs is not a true reflection of his ability. Damian Clarke only had limited opportunities with the ball, but he managed a career best 6-45 at Burnley in taking 15 wickets at 32.1. New recruit Mick Horsfield also chipped in with 10 wickets.
In the Worsley Cup, eventual winners Ramsbottom ended Accrington's interest in the first round. The club's best moments came in the Inter League Challenge Trophy with a second successive appearance in the quarter finals. The first round win at Walsden featured Canning's best performance of the season when he hit 94 in a 2nd wicket stand of 170 with Zahir Afzal, who hit an impressive 75 in a 3 wicket victory. A second round win at Werneth followed with half centuries from Canning and Tariq Hussain, but the most pleasing aspect was the contributions of youngsters Andrew Greenwood, Stuart Crabtree and Graeme Sneddon. Littleborough again proved too good in the quarter final as Accrington were defeated by the competition's eventual winners again.
By stark contrast to Accrington's current failings, one former Accrington professional shone like beacon in the year that cricket became popular again thanks to the fantastic Ashes Series which proved to the the best in the games history. It is hard to believe now but it was 1991 when Shane Keith Warne had one season as professional at Accrington as a fresh faced inexperienced 21 year-old with just 1 First-class match behind him. At times Warne seemed to be playing against England on his own with him leading a constant rearguard action after his batsmen had been ripped out by England's potent attack. Warne made 249 runs, including 90 at Old Trafford but it was his 40 wickets at 19.9, including two ten wicket hauls, that confirmed his status as probably the best bowler of all time.
Shetty and Dibber boost
Boosted by the return of David Ormerod and the early season form of new professional Nishit Shetty, Accrington improved to ninth place in 2006 with nine victories. Returning to the club where he began as a junior, Ormerod became the leading amateur wicket-taker for the seventh time in the last eleven seasons. The medium pacer's total of 62 is the best by an Accrington amateur since Alan Worsick took 75 in 1971 and he is the first Accrington bowler since Worsick claimed 59 victims in 1984 to be the league's leading amateur wicket-taker.
Rarely can a batsman have arrived on the Lancashire League scene with the impact that Shetty had. The Indian made a terrific start with exactly 500 runs from his first five league innings plus an unbeaten century at Norden in the Inter League Challenge Trophy and 88 in the Worsley Cup, finishing with 1159 league runs, including three centuries and six half centuries. Shetty began with a superb 155 in the opening day win against Colne and on May 6th he hit a brilliant 173, the second highest by an Accrington player, against Rawtenstall as Accrington smashed the record for their previous highest score, hitting 341-6 to erase a 93 year-old club record from the books. In all matches the Indian hit 1371 runs from 25 innings. He also took 47 league wickets plus 4 in the cups.
Skipper Matt Wilson was the only amateur batsman to shine, equalling his personal best tally of 474 runs at 27.9 with two half centuries. Of the other batsmen, Graeme Sneddon hit 255 runs at 11.6, Zahir Afzal 232 at 12.9, Adam Wilson 221 at 13.8 with a career best 72 at Church, Mick Horsfield 203 at 12.7 and Stuart Crabtree 198 in the absence of Mohsin Ahmed who moved to rishton and then Great Harwood. The loss of all rounder Tariq Hussain for all but the 20/20 matches was also a major blow. Simon Hanson showed promise after making his senior debut and Waqas Ahmed had an extended run in the side.
Special mention must be made of young wicketkeeper James Ormerod who bagged 29 victims which was a remarkable achievement in his first season in senior cricket and with little previous experience with the gloves. Afzal picked up 19 wickets at 34.2 and Damian Clarke had 11 victims at 23.8 with the ball.
Yet another early exit from the Worsley Cup plus two completely rained off home games didn't help the finances, but the club enjoyed a couple of home games in the 20/20, narrowly failing to reach a money spinning semi final after an unexpected defeat by Church.
Return of the bad times
After an improved showing in 2006 the dark days returned both on and off the field in 2007 when Accrington finished bottom for the eighth time in the last 14 seasons. Off the field problems with finances put the club in the news when an EGM was called in June.
In a season when the weather played havoc with cricket the full length of the country, Accrington had five matches called off without a ball being bowled.
The first eight matches were lost before a victory at Rawtenstall stopped the rot. Captain Matt Wilson resigned and under new skipper David Ormerod, the club won four of its last nine matches to total six victories and 14 defeats, briefly climbing off the bottom after beating Burnley in September.
Professional Nishit Shetty had a disappointing season. A mix up led to him missing the first three matches. Sub professionals Michael Papps and Mohammed Asif scored unbeaten centuries in successive days but both matches were lost. Shetty returned to form in the win at Rawtenstall with an unbeaten 152, but he only scored 651 runs at 40.7 and he picked up 35 wickets at 16.0 with a best of 7-88 against Lowerhouse.
A freak injury in the field at Haslingden severely disrupted David Ormerod's season with the medium pacer missing for over two months. The return of Mohsin Ahmed didn't go smoothly with the opener also missing over a month of the season. Brian Heywood joined the club from Todmorden but he too missed many matches due to a variety of injuries. The success story of the season was another new signing, the left arm spinning all rounder Toby Bulcock who joined the club from Baxenden. The 17 year-old made a big impression as he scored most runs and took the most wickets. Bulcock hit 301 runs at 18.8 and he took 34 wickets at 22.9. His finest moment came in the home win against Enfield when he took a career best 7-66 after top scoring with a club best score of 38. Simon Hanson also impressed with 165 runs in a season that saw him opening both the batting and bowling.
David Ormerod picked up 22 wickets at 26.0 from the 19 matches that he played but no other bowler reached double figures apart from Bulcock and Shetty. The batting also left much to be desired with Stuart Crabtree (193 runs at 12.1), Graeme Sneddon (162 runs at 8.5) showing only glimpses of their potential. Brian Heywood managed 135 runs at 15.0, Mohsin Ahmed 177 at 12.6, including an unbeaten 72 at Bacup and Matt Wilson 194 at 10.2 with a top score of 29. Injury also caused Adam Wilson to miss almost the entire season and limited availability restricted the appearances of Zahir Afzal to 9 matches.
The club's appalling Worsley Cup record continued with a first round exit at the hands of Todmorden and all four 20/20 matches were lost.
Magic in the air
The summer of 2008 was the most remarkable season in the club's 162 year history as the team lifted both the championship and Worsley Cup trophies to do the double for the first time ever.
After two decades in the doldrums one of the most incredible turnarounds in sporting history took place at a magical Thorneyholme Road. Inspired by the return of Graham Lloyd the team was transformed from whipping boys to champions or chumps to champs. Not since 1948 had a team gone from bottom to top in successive seasons. The double had been done 19 times before in 83 seasons but never had it been achieved in such circumstances. Since 1990 the team had finished bottom of the table eight times, failing to finish in the top half of the table during that period with ninth place the highest place the club could achieve in 1993, 2000 and 2006. The club's record in the Worsley Cup was also appalling with just three wins since 1989 the last being seven years previously in 2001.
The batting of Lloyd in the lower middle order added a new dimension to the side. But for the last three games being rained off he would almost certainly have beaten Graham Beech's club amateur batting record and possibly scored 1,000 runs. A total of 19 victories were recorded mostly in fine style as the team's attacking approach paid rich dividends.
Accrington embarked on the new campaign with a new professional Roy Silva who was the club's first ever Sri Lankan paid man. In addition to Graham Lloyd, Jimmy Hayhurst also returned from Haslingden although injury restricted him to bowling just 9 overs. Experienced campaigner Paul Carroll also joined the club from Central Lancashire League side Norden in the role of pinch hitting all rounder at the top of the order. David Lloyd also made a couple of cameo appearances amid a blaze of publicity.
Inspite of a tough start to the season with away games at Lowerhouse, Bacup and East Lancs, Accrington won all three to emerge as the early pacesetters. Defeat against Haslingden, which featured the return of David Lloyd to the Lancashire League at the age of 61, let in Nelson after Accrington handed Rawtenstall their first defeat in 20 games the following day. Five more wins on the bounce enabled Accrington to maintain their challenge in second place inspite of a 76 run reverse at Turf Moor. A further run of six wins took Accrington 20 points clear at the top after returning to the summit after 28 run win at Todmorden on July 12th. Inspite of losing twice to Nelson and having a daunting title run-in Accrington continued to defy history winning at Ramsbottom for the first time since 1989 and beating East Lancs at Thorneyholme Road for the first time since 1996 to pick up the Lancashire League title for the first time since 1975 by the margin of 17 points from nearest challengers Rawtenstall. Ironically it was the rained off penultimate match at Rawtenstall which saw the title sealed.
The Worsley Cup Final victory at Todmorden was preceded by nail-biting victories over Enfield in the 2nd Round after receiving a 1st Round Bye, and at Burnley in a dramatic semi final.
The only downside to the season was the three 20/20 defeats albeit with a much weakened side.
The professional Roy Silva took some time to settle after missing the opening match due to a chest infection. He made his mark initially with the ball, destroying Rawtenstall with 6-27 as the league leaders were rolled over for just 48 to end a 20 match unbeaten run. The Sri Lankan notched his first league half century in his next innings against Enfield. His total of 589 league runs included one century and four half centuries. In all matches he scored 736 runs at 32.0 with a top score of 111 in the Worsley Cup Final which was the highest innings in a limited overs final by a professional in the team's record score of 290-6. Silva picked up 27 league wickets at 22.4 and 6 more in the cup.
Graham Lloyd was the leading run scorer with 849 runs at 53.1 with one century, the first by an Accrington amateur since 1996, and six half centuries. Lloyd was pipped by Rawtenstall's Andrew Payne on the last day as the league's leading amateur run scorer after Accrington's match with Lowerhouse was abandoned without play. Matt Wilson had his best season to date, scoring 475 runs at 20.6, mostly at the top of the order, and picking up 37 victims behind the sticks to win the League's Wicketkeeping Prize. Stuart Crabtree's 287 runs at 13.7 included a match winning 53 against Todmorden. Toby Bulcock made 275 runs at 15.3, including a match winning unbeaten 71 at East Lancs. The plan to use Paul Carroll in a pinch hitting role at the top of the order didn't really pay dividends but the opener did make 245 runs with a vital 40 at Ramsbottom the highlight. Graeme Sneddon made 220 runs at 20.0 with his best innings reserved for the matches against Colne. Zahir Afzal (106 runs), Simon Hanson (126 runs) and Jimmy Hayhurst (103 runs) also made vital contributions down the order when they were needed most. Even the last pair of David Ormerod and Damian Clarke made telling contributions as a pair at Todmorden and individually in support of Graham Lloyd against the might of Ramsbottom's Shane Harwood in the epic encounter at Thorneyholme Road.
The skipper David Ormerod was the mainstay of the bowling attack picking up 71 wickets at 14.2 to win a share of the League's Senior Bowling Award for the eighth time. Carroll's slow floaters accounted for 33 victims at 15.5, Bulcock picked up 29 wickets at 23.1 and he was also named as 'Man of the match' in the Worsley Cup Final. Zahir Afzal's 15 wickets at 16.4 included a match winning 6-15 against East Lancs and Damian Clarke also chipped in with 15 wickets at 21.9.
David Ormerod's contribution as skipper was also recognised when he was named as the Wisden-Cricketer Club Cricketer of the Year to round off a fantastic season.
The season began with the club's first ever Ron Singleton Colne Trophy match against Todmorden. Defeat by the Yorkshire men was the first of four in league and cup to Jon Henderson's side.
After another defeat by Todmorden in the league, Accrington went joint top after beating Haslingden in the replayed games on May 16th. Victory at Ramsbottom the following week opened up a 5 point gap over main challengers Haslingden and Todmorden. The cup dream ended at Todmorden where the home side gained revenge for their final defeat of the previous season.
The cup dream ended at Todmorden where the home side gained revenge for their final defeat of the previous season.
By the end of June Accrington held a 5 point advantage over Haslingden. At the halfway point there was a change in leadership after Accrington lost at Burnley, Haslingden took the lead for the first time. Accrington were 5 points behind and the gap widened after Accrington lost at Colne on July 19th with Haslingden now leading by 14 points.
By the end of June Accrington held a 5 point advantage over Haslingden.
At the halfway point there was a change in leadership after Accrington lost at Burnley, Haslingden took the lead for the first time. Accrington were 5 points behind and the gap widened after Accrington lost at Colne on July 19th with Haslingden now leading by 14 points.
Accrington made up ground when their match at Rishton on July 26th survived the weather to claw back Haslingden's lead to 8 points after losing at home to Rawtenstall the previous day.
Accrington made up ground when their match at Rishton on July 26th survived the weather to claw back Haslingden's lead to 8 points after losing at home to Rawtenstall the previous day.
The gap returned to 20 points when Accrington were beaten by Nelson at the beginning of August. Another defeat at Todmorden saw Accrington slip back to third place, 30 points behind Haslingden who had played 1 match less. Accrington reduced the gap to 20 points by beating Nelson the following week. This match saw the start of what turned out to be a championship winning run of six wins from the last seven matches, including their first win in 15 seasons over Lowerhouse at Thorneyholme Road.
The gap returned to 20 points when Accrington were beaten by Nelson at the beginning of August.
Another defeat at Todmorden saw Accrington slip back to third place, 30 points behind Haslingden who had played 1 match less.
Accrington reduced the gap to 20 points by beating Nelson the following week. This match saw the start of what turned out to be a championship winning run of six wins from the last seven matches, including their first win in 15 seasons over Lowerhouse at Thorneyholme Road.
Graham Lloyd was again the leading batsman with 842 runs at 40.1. He made 120, his best score for the club, in the high scoring defeat at Todmorden. Surprisingly Graham only scored three half centuries, being out in the 40s four times in league matches. Stuart Crabtree also had an outstanding season with the bat scoring 575 runs with a career best 96 the best of his four half centuries. Graeme Sneddon also had his best season with the bat, scoring 439 runs at 24.4. Simon Hanson progressed with 259 runs at 15.2, finishing the season as an opening batsman. James Ormerod also had spells at the top of the order, scoring 219 runs at 12.9. Matt Wilson scored 192 runs at 12.8 after missing ten matches through injury. Skipper David Ormerod was the top wicket-taker with 66 at 16.5. He took 7-70 against Haslingden and 7-78 against Rishton. Jimmy Hayhurst had his best season with the ball taking 34 wickets at 18.3. He also scored 160 runs with a top score of 44. Paul Carroll picked up 31 wickets at 19.3 with a best of 19.3. He scored 155 runs and finished the season down the order where he played a memorable role in the title winning partnership with David Lloyd, hitting a six off the first ball of the 49th over to relieve the pressure. David himself played in two matches, top scoring with 28 against Todmorden early in the season and returning for the final game. Veteran Damian Clarke also picked up 16 wickets at 19.1.
Once again the 20/20 campaign was a disaster with four successive defeats.
Days (1846 - 1890)