KEVIN Hitchon is relishing a season of new challenges, after surpassing expectations with Padiham this term.

The Arbories outfit achieved their target of Section A survival in the two-tier Ribblesdale League, but had the added bonus of a Ramsbottom Cup win.

Hitchon said the task next season will be to defend the silverware, as well as push on in the league, and he is looking forward to the test.

“We achieved what we want to do in staying in the top division. Winning the cup was something we didn’t expect, so overall it’s been a pretty good season,” said the Padiham captain.

“It’s been a while since we won anything.

“Hopefully next year we can push a bit further up that league, and hopefully defend the cup too.

“That’s another challenge for us because this year we were never expected to get through to the final never mind win it, so the pressure was off, whereas next year the pressure is going to be on us to win games.”

Among their team achievements this season were notable individual performances, with Toby Burrows listed in the top 10 wicket takers with 43 in the league and 52 in all competitions, while Callum Clarke finished with 913 runs.

“Callum had the season of his life,” said Hitchon.

“He was disappointed to miss out on 1,000 runs, and he probably deserved to get them because we really relied on him.

“The weather got the better of him in the end, and a couple of dodgy decisions didn’t help him, but that’s cricket I suppose. And looking back, overall, he is pretty delighted with his total.

“He’ll want to go out and better it next year.

“He had a run of form mid-season where he couldn’t stop scoring runs so there’s every chance that if he does that again he can beat it. The incentive is certainly there for him.

“As for Toby, you know what you’re going to get every week. He is Mr Consistent, in any situation, and a captain’s dream.

“He probably deserved a few more wickets because we did drop a few catches, but he’s very placid and doesn’t complain.”

Padiham, meanwhile, are looking for a new professional after Siviwe Gidana decided to retire from first class cricket.