EARBY are keen to put this year’s strange season behind them and come again in 2021 by finally getting their professional player on the pitch.

The Lancashire club were hoping that Sri Lankan youngster Nuwanidu Fernando would play a big part in a successful campaign this year but he was unable to travel over due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Nevertheless, the Ribblesdale League Senior Division team are delighted that they could defer the agreement to next term.

Secretary Lee Parkinson thinks all rounder Fernando has a huge future in the game and hopes he will bring the same quality as another former professional did in his stay at The Applegarth.

He said: “It looks like he is a very promising prospect. We were looking forward to have him on board and disappointed that he could not come this year.

“In a very similar vain to what Ashen Bandara brought when he came over, and got called back into the emerging talent squad, we are hopeful Nuwanndi will settle in well for us and have a good season.

“For a number of years, we have just been struggling on the batting side of it. To put a good score on the board or chase one, we would lose quick wickets.

“So, hopefully he can bring some stability to the batting order and provide some useful off spin as well.”

Earby struggled to really get going in 2020, finishing in a disappointing ninth-place after only picking up three wins from their 11 outings.

Parkinson says the club used the shortened campaign to bring through some prospects meaning results did not bear as much importance.

He said: “It was a difficult season in regards to everything that happened Covid wise. We were able to blood through a lot of youngsters to the first and second teams.

“Results did not really matter to us, it was just about getting people on the pitch. We could have finished bottom and we would not have been too fussed.

“Wanting to finish higher or thinking we should have finished higher is irrelevant.

“We had a lot of good buy in from the players in regards to changing rooms and sanitising, and it was still busy in the clubhouse apart from the last game of the season.”

It was in these final round of fixtures that clubs were left confused.

The Ribblesdale League put out a statement on the week of the games telling its members to not allow spectators in or use the on site bar due to the increase in restrictions in the area.

Parkinson added: “The league decided to put a full shutdown on supporters coming which we thought was very premature.

“It was frustrating that you had local football teams still allowed supporters to go watch and semi professional football teams advertising tickets. Social distancing is much easier at cricket than football.

“We are very grateful to the league for putting everything in place but we just didn’t think it was the right call on the last game.”