Over the last 30 years, I’ve played cricket in six cities. If there’s one thing that’s consistent across all that time - other than the relentless drop in my bowling “speed” – it’s that each club is only as strong as its junior set-up.
I joined Baildon Meths 13 years ago, and there was a great crop of younger players then – Ross Todd, Darren Wilson, Phil Hiley. But for many years after there were far fewer juniors coming through.
A few years Baildon did a great thing for the long-term future of the club, by putting big efforts into getting junior cricket going. Thanks to Don Butterfield, Dan Metcalfe, Chris Hughes, Dom Kelly, Chris Reynolds and many others, we’ve now got a flourishing youth team set-up.
I saw the fruits of that last Saturday, in a big win for the 4ths at Tong Park. 7 players aged 13-19, and all of them doing a job. Two highlights were a composed, straight-bat maiden 50 for Sam Wilkinson, and a nagging, accurate spell from seamer Sam Kelly. Sam K bowls just as Danny Hunt did for the 3rds four years back: strong action, line-and-length, faster every year.
Younger players tend to break-through into the higher teams in waves. Thanks to the youth team set-up, Baildon’s waves are going to be bigger every year. They’re going to be smashing into Saltaire, Morley and Pudsey sides at an ever-increasing rate. The future’s bright for Baildon.