Chairman Patel’s Preston rally cry

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Preston chairman Younis Patel admits there is only one word to describe his club at the moment – “struggling”.

The West Cliff outfit are firmly rooted at the bottom of the Northern League Division One table having failed to pick up a single victory so far this season.

They have just seven points next to their name and find themselves a huge 33 points behind second-bottom St Annes.

The writing was on the wall for the team on the opening day of the season when they were dismissed for an embarrassing 37, chasing Penrith’s huge total of 333-4.

An inability to put runs on the board has been Preston’s major problem – they have only managed to post four three-figure totals in nine matches.

Patel admits the team’s present predicament is hugely disappointing for everybody concerned, especially as the club has a long and proud history, having been established in 1821.

They are believed to be one of the oldest cricket clubs in the world, but Patel – who will watch his side entertain reigning champions Blackpool tomorrow – has vowed to turn the club’s fortunes around and believes there is potential for good times in the future.

“We are not giving up”, said Patel. “We have got a long and proud history and we are certainly not giving up.

“To see the club in its present position is absolutely disappointing for everybody connected with the club.”

Preston’s struggles this season are not too much of a surprise when you consider the club’s recent fortunes.

Last year, they finished third from bottom, while in 2013 they ended the season marooned at the foot of the table. That was all a far cry from the summer of 2012 when they enjoyed a relatively successful season, finishing in a respectable sixth place.

However, the first couple of months of this summer has seen the club plunge new depths and Patel believes the loss of a number of key individuals have been costly.

Last year’s leading wicket-taker in the entire league, Saeed Bariwala, left to join Kendal, while top batsman Jibran Kahn has been unavailable.

The professional of 2014 Soyeb Dukanwala has also been unavailable this season, but it is hoped he may return at some point in the next couple of months.

“We have been competitive in previous years, but we have not been able to compete this year,” Patel said.

“We have lost three or four key players, but things are slightly getting better. Improvements are on the horizon.

“The second team have won two games already, which they didn’t do last year. The Sunday team has won four games and they are doing quite well.”

Elsewhere, in the ECB National Knockout competition, Chorley face derby rivals Leyland in the regional final at Windsor Park on Sunday.

Tomorrow’s fixtures:

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Darwen v Morecambe, Fleetwood v Penrith, Kendal v Chorley, Lancaster v St Annes, Leyland v Netherfield, Preston v Blackpool.

PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Croston v Hoghton, Freckleton v Penwortham, Fulwood and Broughton v BAC/EE Preston, Fylde v Thornton Cleveleys, Garstang v Longridge, Great Eccleston v Vernon Carus.