This week, resident Professor of Captaincy and Pitch Rolling, Dave Hodgson, introduces this weekend's fixtures.
The oldest batting pads in the club
Warning, this preview is an unashamedly biased towards our two Dales Council teams….
Around this time last year, I wrote a preview that focused on the unbeaten-ness of the 3rd team. And inevitably we lost our next game. I could have opted for the same theme, given that the 3rd team remain unbeaten after the first 10 games. But to avoid jinxing things, instead I’ll focus on our undefeated-ness - a run of 294 days, and counting – or at least why our undefeated-ness has lasted so long.
Other than the exemplary and imaginative captaincy (thanks for stepping in a couple of weeks ago, Butts), there are many intangible reasons for a winning run; luck, confidence, form, etc. But there are some tangible reasons, which are founded in the time and commitment invested in the club from a number of key people:
- Firstly, the square at Belmont/Sandals has been transformed in the last few years. This is mainly down to the time and effort that Andy Norton puts in (I help, but mainly by keeping the roller moving in a straight line). The wickets are playing really well, and the outfield looks less like a, well, field. Although the bowlers grumble (they always do) there is good carry and movement on offer and even some spin. So…
- A better square means a better cricketing experience for everyone playing, and in particular for junior players. It is no coincidence that the likes of Wilko and Sam Holmes have made the step to second team cricket after making scores at Belmont. And last Sunday in our quarter final cup win Deano brought out his dab sweeps to manipulate the field. A couple of years ago a batter was more in danger of their face being manipulated by a ball rearing of a good length! But a better square benefits visiting teams as well, so….
- The only reason there are junior cricketers around to benefit from these improvements is down to the strong junior structure established and led by Alex and Dom, and many many others. The production line of bowlers and batters coming through is seriously impressive, and they will be putting serious pressure on our more, err, experienced players. But it is not just the ability of the junior players, but also their positive attitude to step up and play in the 3s and 4s when needed, which is useful because…
- This season the 3s alone have had 25 different players in our first 10 matches, including 13 junior players, who have all contributed to our wins. Last weekend alone we had 17 different players! Some might see this churn of players, and lack of a consistent team, as a weakness – and similarly high numbers of players have turned out for the 2s and 4s. But the breadth and depth of players experiencing cricket in a positive environment (the undefeated-ness helps) is a huge strength that will underpin the growth of the club for years to come as we see increasing numbers of junior players make the step up from the 3s and 4s to the 1s and 2s.
As for this weekend, Andy Norton takes the 4s to table topping Rodley on Sunday for a rearranged match (and will have stiffer competition this weekend). The 2s adoption of Daz-ball, which is all the rage these days apparently, have seen them have their own run of wins, and they have a really good chance of beating Bradford and Bingley at home. The 1s have a challenging game at Pudsey Congs – hopefully their run of narrow defeats can be reversed into a narrow win.
As for the 3s, we are playing one of the strongest team in Division B, Thornbury 2s, at home. Coincidentally, we have been drawn to play Thornbury 1s in the semi-final of the Pool Paper Mills cup competition, which will take place on the Sunday of the beer festival (July 3rd) at Jenny Lane.
The beer festival is rapidly approaching….this is the most crucial event for the club in terms of profile and income. It is critical that as many of our players and members help before, during, and after the event (and not just helping in front of the bar).
In order to minimise our set up costs (and therefore maximise our profits!) we are seeking to bring in sponsorship for as many barrels of beer and bottles of gin that we can. You can sponsor a barrel of beer for £75 and a bottle of gin for £40 – or do both for £105. All sponsors will be name checked at the festival, on our website and on our Facebook page – exposing you to anywhere between 500 -1,500 local customers. If you would like to get involved please contact James Butterfield on 07970 026316.