Preston ruling out league switch

Saeed Bariwala's contribution 'has been 'missed by 'Preston this season

Saeed Bariwala's contribution 'has been 'missed by 'Preston this season

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Preston Cricket Club chairman Younis Patel has scotched rumours that the club will be cutting its ties with the Northern League.

There have been suggestions this week that the West Cliff outfit were looking to join the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield.

The rumours of the switch have gathered pace, especially after news broke recently that many of their fellow clubs are considering quitting the Northern League in the future.

The Lancashire League – which is based in the east of the county – is planning to expand and create two divisions, featuring promotion and relegation, which will likely come into effect in the summer of 2017.

The Lancashire League’s expansion plans are in response to radical new proposals sweeping across the country to create a pyramid structure in local league cricket.

St Annes were the first club from the Northern League to confirm that they have applied to join the Lancashire League and other clubs are expected to follow suit.

Preston – who have been members of the Northern League since 1953 – have endured a miserable summer and head into the final match of the season on Saturday against Netherfield, having failed to pick up a single victory all season.

They are marooned at the foot of the table having picked up just 24 points from 23 league games and are 89 points adrift of second-bottom Kendal.

Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the future of the Northern League beyond next year, Patel insisted his only concern was making the club stronger for next season.

“We are not moving leagues,” Patel told the Evening Post.

“We’ve had a bad year. It’s probably been the worst year in the history of Preston Cricket Club.

“After the season we have had, I don’t think we will be a very attractive proposition to the Palace Shield at the moment.

“We will be back – I can guarantee that we will be a lot stronger next season.”

Patel has pointed to the loss of several key individuals such as Saeed Bariwala and Jibran Kahn and the failure to land a professional as the key reasons behind the club’s disastrous campaign.

But he has pointed to the example of newly-crowned champions Morecambe as one Preston could aspire to.

“There were seven points difference between ourselves and Morecambe at the end of last year,” Patel said.

“They finished on 143 points and we finished on 136. Difference is this year, they got a good pro who took 90 wickets and scored 500 runs.

“Our professional was out in India, he promised he would be back by mid-June but never arrived. We have played without a pro all season.

“Last year we were competitive, this year we haven’t been, but we are looking for a good pro and at least four other players.”