Walkden are hoping to get the band back together as they target promotion in next year’s Anthony Axford North West Cricket League.

Back-to-back Bolton League champions in 2018 and 2019 - they also won the Hamer Cup in the latter season - Walkden finished bottom of this season’s inaugural NWCL table, winning only two of their 23 matches, including their final round clash with Baxenden.

It means they will play in the league’s second tier in 2024. But they aren’t planning to be there for long.

In fact, The Oval club have exciting plans in place for both short-term and long-term success.

They have re-appointed Abid Riaz as team manager ahead of next summer, the man in charge at the height of their success, while major renovations have also taken place off the field.

“The team we want to build, we want to be competitive, and promotion is a key factor,” said Riaz. “Walkden is a big name in terms of the previous Bolton League, and we want to be playing top-division cricket as soon as possible.

“We’re hoping to bring back a few of the lads who have played here previously. We’re talking to some who won the title with us.

“We’re looking at getting a first-class professional in, and we’re speaking to a few lads from the Liverpool Competition.”

Despite their struggles, Walkden ended the season with a bang. They won at Baxenden by 184 runs, with Harris Khan hitting a fine 124 in 264-9 and captain Mustafa Bashir claiming 9-36 in the hosts’ 80 all out - the second best figures in the Premiership all season.

“There’s two or three lads who are fantastic,” said Riaz.

“Harris is only 20. He’s come from Pakistan, moved to England and lives in Bury. He has a lot of potential and hits the ball very clean. Mustafa, on his day, he’s one of the best opening bowlers in the league.

“It’s consistency and getting the balance of the team right. We’ve lacked a few runs this year, so we’re looking to recruit in that area.

“The lads have been improving through the season. There were four or five games they should have won, but because of experience they haven’t managed to get over the line.”

A lack of facilities, believes Riaz, played its part in Walkden’s recent decline.

“A few of the local lads also ended up leaving because the facilities weren’t right and training nights weren’t happening,” he said. “Now, everything is back to being brand new, and we’re hoping some lads might come back.”

Of those facilities, Riaz said: “They’re all county standard now.

“We have new nets which have been built to the same spec as the ones at Old Trafford.

“The clubhouse, there’s an extension been built. The upstairs changing rooms are double the size of what they were.

“We’re building a flat for the professional, and we’re going to be introducing women’s cricket. We’re building changing rooms for that. We’ve also got an electronic scoreboard, and the ground has been levelled off so that it’s all flat.”

You hear it a lot in local cricket that clubs say, ‘We’re a family club’. Unfortunately for Walkden, that seems to have been lost recently. And it needs to return in order to get the club back to being a local league heavyweight.

“Definitely it’s been lost due to the loss of those local players, which was down to the facilities,” added Riaz. “They’d go elsewhere to other clubs because things like training nights weren’t happening.

“We want to bring the families back to the club. That is a massive thing for us, and hopefully it will happen.

“It’s looking good for us at the moment.”