RAMSBOTTOM captain Tom Parton describes his side’s start to the season as mixed, but he can at least console himself with the knowledge that he isn’t the only Lancashire League skipper with the feeling of what might have been.

In the first year of the Lancashire League’s two-tiered competition, Rammy are fifth in Division One having won four and lost three, including Saturday’s home defeat to Crompton.

But every team, including leaders Norden, have lost at least twice.

Frustrating? Yes. But encouraging? Yes, also, because it shows the change to two divisions is working, according to Parton.

He said: “We’ve not consistently been able to perform, but that’s like everyone.

“Very few teams have been able to win a couple on the bounce. It’s one step forwards, one backwards.

“As soon as you win two games, you climb the ladder.

“I think that’s due to the improved standard. The games we’ve lost, the margins for error have been a lot finer. Whereas one dropped catch wouldn’t have previously cost you a game, now it can do.

"We’ve been at 60 per cent in a couple of games and got a good hiding.

“Every captain I’ve spoken to, they all say the same. No one’s got a clue who’s going to win the league or even who’s going to go down.

“It’s frustrating for captains throughout the league, but entertaining for those on the sidelines.

“Whoever wins it will probably lose six or seven games out of 22, which is unheard of.”

This time last year, when Parton spoke to the Bury Times, he played down their chances of winning the league after a similar start: “My thoughts are still the same,” he said.

“I’ll probably play it down even more now given the improved standard.”

On Saturday, at Ramsbottom’s Acre Bottom, Crompton racked up 271-6 from 49 overs after winning the toss, including 128 from Australian first-class professional Will Bosisto.

In reply, Ramsbottom were bowled out for 208, slipping to their second successive league defeat.

Parton, whose side started the season with wins against Darwen, Norden and Accrington, added: “Bosisto played a chanceless innings and used all his class and experience.

“We weren’t at our absolute best, and we got punished. You get punished like that by good amateurs, never mind pros.”

Ramsbottom’s standout player so far has been South African all-round pro George Linde, but opener Parton is confident others will stand up and join him, including his 16-year-old partner JJ Fielding, who is at Lancashire’s academy.

“JJ’s a young lad who’s had his exams ongoing. His availability to commit fully to cricket has been limited,” he said.

“At 16, to be deservedly opening the batting and contributing in the Lancashire League, it’s superb.

"He has the bit between his teeth. He wants fifties and hundreds.”

Ramsbottom are also into the quarter-finals of the Worsley Cup on June 15, playing either Todmorden or Church.

Parton added: “The league, the best team always wins it. If we carry on like we are doing, that certainly won’t be us!

“But, in the Worsley Cup, three more wins and we’ve won it. We also want to do well in the T20s.”