Barrowford are confident they can make a positive impression on this summer’s Anthony Axford North West Cricket League T20 competition.

A Conference Premier side in the NWCL structure, they have accepted an invitation to play in the 2024 Birtwistle Cup, starting tomorrow. The Pendle club replace Settle from last season and start their campaign at last year’s beaten semi-finalists Padiham (6.15pm).

Barrowford’s current position in the third tier alongside a number of second teams, owes much to the facilities at their Bull Holme Oval ground.

They have won two of their opening three games and sit second just behind Farnworth Social Circle seconds. In the Conference Premier, they are one of three first teams alongside Burnley Belvedere and Foulridge.

“We’re very pleased we’ve been invited to participate as we were under the impression we would never be allowed to due to our basic facilities,” said batter and captain, Jonny Ormerod.

“We always thought we had a team to compete, so it will be interesting now we are given that chance.

“I hope we can do well and we can be invited back next season.

“We are more than excited, and so many of our players are wanting to play.

“We had lined up a Pakistani professional called Raees Haider just for this competition, but he has had some visa issues, which has left us scratching around. We’re now exploring other pros within the area to hopefully help us.

“However, if a pro doesn’t materialise, we’re still confident of competing with the squad we have. We won the Hundred competition in the Craven League in our last year there, in 2022. We’re hoping for more success and to see how our players compete with the league’s top T20 players.”

Barrowford’s facilities mean they will have to do it the hard way if they are to succeed over the next couple of months.

The top two teams in each of the four six-team groups advance to the quarter-finals (June 28) with Finals Day on July 21. Each team plays five group games, and Little Lever are the defending champions.

Ormerod explained: “We’ve agreed to play all our games away so there’s an option for spectators to use bar facilities.

“We still have to pay for half of the games as our home games.

“The hosting clubs will be earning money while we are out of pocket, but we’re just so happy to be given a chance to play with the big boys.

“We do believe facilities shouldn’t determine what league or cup a team can play in.

“The main thing is the cricket pitch and having a game of cricket, not the bar facilities, etc.

“Our ground doesn’t have a wall or fence around it, so the public/dog walkers use it.

“Unfortunately, a lot of our money goes on repairs that the public cause.

“It’s very hard for us to progress money wise, but we always have a strong eleven for match-days.

“We need some grants to help us progress off the pitch, but on the pitch we’re fine.”

Barrowford are in Group One North alongside Padiham, Barnoldswick, Earby, Read and Ribblesdale Wanderers.