Radcliffe cricket club captain Sean Gibson believes the development of young players is the key to the club’s long-term success.

Despite a narrow 40-run defeat in Monday’s Twenty20 match with Premier Division Clifton, Gibson was encouraged by the performance of three second team players he brought into the side.

Youngsters Joab Johnston and Conor Gately, along with second team captain Adam Sajewicz, all played well, with Sajewicz’s bowling particularly impressive.

“They performed very well and didn’t look out of place at all,” said Gibson. “It was really encouraging to see.”

“I’m hoping this will make a difference with players competing for places and hopefully it will bring out the best in all of them because we want the whole club to be playing well.

“Although it was another loss which is disappointing it’s more about development than just winning every game.”

Bowler Faisal Ali took two wickets as Clifton were bowled out for 134, but it was with the bat that Radcliffe appeared to struggle with top-scorer Gibson hitting 61 as the hosts were skittled for 94 runs.

“Clifton are in the top division and although it was a good performance, we didn’t quite get there with the bat.

“Bowling-wise we were good. We bowled well to keep them down to 134 but we let ourselves down with the bat.

“We were missing a few players but we still had a good batting team. We’ve got quite a few powerful players who can score quite quickly but none of them really got going.”

With the top two teams from each T20 group qualifying for the quarter-finals of the competition, Radcliffe must now win their two remaining games against fellow championship teams Monton & Weaste and Unsworth.

Radcliffe have a double header of league fixtures this weekend with Monton & Weaste at home on Saturday before a trip to Crompton on Sunday, and Gibson believes his side are capable of winning both games.

“I’m hoping one or two of the youngsters will step in this weekend as we’ve still got Dan Farley missing through exams.

“We lost by one wicket against Monton last time in a very close game. Hopefully we can turn it around this time as I definitely think we are good enough to beat them.

“Crompton are top of the division at the moment and beat us in the league recently. “They have quite a few new players so it’s going to be a tough game but we’ll be better prepared and looking to play better against them.”