Walkden are aiming to put the Cricket back in Cricket Club this summer as they bid for promotion from the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League’s Championship division.

Long-standing president Frank Hinks, also a life president of the NWCL, has been talking about his club’s aims for progression both on and off the field.

Last year was a notable one as they concentrated on putting the finishing touches to an impressive transformation of their Oval home - a 17-year project. This year, however, the aim is promotion for captain Sehran Khan and company.

“We saw the off-field, development side of things as more important than the cricket last year,” said Hinks, president for the last 29 years. “I was quite relaxed last year because we had to concentrate on getting the development finished.

“Now, the results are more important, and we’re a reasonable side and confident of promotion.”

Walkden finished bottom of the 24-team inaugural NWCL table last summer, winning only twice in 23 matches.

They have already bettered that haul of victories in the first four weeks of the 2024 campaign, winning three, including a thriller at Read by three wickets last Saturday to move to within eight points of leaders Baxenden with a game in hand.

Walkden bowled Read out for 188, including three wickets for Faisal Hussain and two apiece for Ammad Afzal and Mustafa Bashir, who later hit the winning runs.

Muzammil Nizam top-scored in the chase with 58 from number four, and he led the recovery from 113-5, sharing 64 with Umar Shahid, who hit 40.

Captain Bashir then hit his second ball for six to seal victory with two balls remaining.

Walkden are now joint-third in the Championship on 40 points with Atherton. The pair face each other at the Oval tomorrow in a key fixture.

Off the field, Walkden’s redevelopment of their ground has been quite the project, and the upgrades make up a long list.

“I started it 17 years ago,” said Hinks. “And, after 15 years, Allan Cooke (chair) and Colin Sutcliffe (honorary secretary) took over and made progress that I couldn’t.

“Our car parking has been tarmacked, we’ve got new dressing rooms to ECB standards, new nets, four new sight-screens, a score box built, a maintenance shed, fencing around the ground, the outfield has been flattened, the terracing has made to look better, we have a disabled changing room and accommodation for any pros and overseas players we sign.

“It’s cost just over £1m, in conjunction with Salford City Council with Redwaters Homes.

“I’ve been at Walkden for 66 years, with a lot of nice memories from the club and the ground. The ground looks as well as it ever has done.”

On social media last Saturday, Walkden described their redevelopment as “one of our biggest achievements so far”.

Promotion this season - they are currently joint-third in the Championship aiming for a top-two finish - may not compare to previous successes on the field.

For example, the club twice won three Bolton League titles in a row between 1950-1952 and again between 2006-2008.

But it will be very significant, nonetheless, and, insists Hinks, will help to lay a platform for the future of a club who have “lots of juniors” and a thriving second team.

“They’ve won all of their games so far this season and are top of the league (Conference 2),” said the president.

Hinks was asked whether Walkden have seen an increase in participation and visitors to the club as a result of the redevelopment work.

“No, not yet,” he added. “But it’s the first year after everything’s been finished. It might do in the future, we’ll have to see.

“But the secret to getting people down to the ground, in my opinion, is a successful team. That’s what attracts people down to your club.”

Weekend fixtures:- Saturday: Premiership - Eagley v Blackrod, Kearsley v Farnworth, Lostock v Farnworth SC, Ribblesdale Wanderers v Astley Bridge, Salesbury v Padiham, Tonge v Little Lever; Championship - Baxenden v Barnoldswick, Cherry Tree v Brinscall, Oswaldtwistle Immanuel v Earby, Walkden v Atherton, Whalley v Read; Sunday: Feniscowles v Cherry Tree.