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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Saman aiming to get Carlisle off to winning start in new cricket season

Professional Saliya Saman has been in fine form in his native Sri Lanka ahead of his arrival in Carlisle for the new season – and that could be bad news for tomorrow’s opening North Lancs and Cumbria opponents Haverigg.

Saliya Saman photo
Saliya Saman

Carlisle were delighted to welcome him back for a fourth season after another great campaign last term, when he helped save the club from relegation.

“It’s good news that he will be here for the first game as it isn’t usually the case,” said secretary Dick Scott.

“I think he’s been playing some good first-class cricket in Sri Lanka, getting a few runs and wickets.

“Last year we had a bit of a fight against relegation and had an awful lot of games rained off. Hopefully it will be a drier season and we’ll be mid-table.”

Carlisle lost only four of their 22 games last term, less than the four sides below them in the Premier Division, and three less than Haverigg, who finished 21 points above them. But they had 11 matches affected by rain, more than any other side in the three divisions.

James Rathwell, who is based at the University of Cumbria, is a new recruit this term.

“He’s from the Saddleworth area and has played a good standard of cricket down there,” Scott added. “He came to our indoor nets and impressed, and I think he’s getting a run out.”

Keswick’s homegrown ex-professional Paul Hindmarch will miss the start of the season, as he is on trial with Leicestershire.

The Borrowdale bowler has spent the last two seasons as pro at Fitz Park but is hoping to launch a first-class career with the county outfit.

Keswick chairman Keith Richardson said: “He’s trying to rebuild his career after being released by Durham a couple of years ago. We desperately want him to do well. It’s his career.

“He’s trying really hard and giving it his best shot, but if he isn’t offered a contract he indicated he will come back here and play for us as an amateur. We would obviously welcome him back.

“Paul spent the winter in Australia playing cricket and hopefully he’s over a long-standing back injury.”

Keswick have signed batsman Geeth Kumara as their pro for the season. The 23-year-old has played first-class cricket in his native Sri Lanka, and this will be his first season in the UK.

“He’s got to adjust to English conditions and it will take time obviously,” Richardson added. “He will play as a top order batsman and leg spinner.”

Kumara will be put through an ECB coaching course and work extensively on coaching Keswick’s youngsters.

The first-team will again by skippered by Glen Weightman, while opening batsman Richard Webster has switched to Cockermouth, where he lives.

Wicket-keeper Andy Rigg will miss the entire season after suffering cruciate ligament damage playing football.

Keswick open their account with a trip to Cleator, who have snapped up South African amateur all-rounder Shaheen Khan, due to arrive in the UK this week.

Cleator chairman Alan Wishart said: “After a poor first half of the season where we were near the bottom of the league, we picked up in the second half and went unbeaten, beating everyone including champions Furness.

“So if we can get off to a good start and get two or three wins in the first five games, then I would expect us to be near the top at the end of the season.

“Hopefully Shaheen will get a chance in the nets before the weekend. It will definitely be different for him, coming from South African wickets to here.”

Whitehaven, who open at Penrith, narrowly escaped relegation last term and have brought in an overseas amateur, New Zealander Jonathan (Jono) Bennett.

The 19-year-old from Christchurch is a top order batsman and Whitehaven hope he will lead them from the front. He can also bowl medium pace outswing.Bennett last term had a spell in the Hertfordshire League with Cockfosters, performing well with the bat. Penrith have lost Nicky Burns to Northern League Barrow.

Penrith may have to pull in a substitute pro if Sri Lankan Upul Fernando does not arrive in time.

Furness took the Premier Division title by 27 points last term, ahead of Workington, who meet in the opener. The champs have re-signed superb Sri Lankan pro Ian Daniel.

But it’s believed he may be unavailable this week, while Workington will be without top batsman Callum Moffat for at least eight weeks after he broke his leg playing rugby union.

Colin Bickerstaffe, league secretary, said: “Furness will still be a strong team, and while Workington haven’t got a pro, if they play to form they’ll be up there, as will Penrith. I don’t think I will be far wrong picking those three.”

Egremont have accepted an invitation to move up to Division One after Duddon SC’s withdrawal from the league.They will take over Duddon’s fixtures and also now play in the Sowerby Cup. There will be only 11 teams in Division Two.

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