As the season gets underway Chairman Ashley Free previews the action.
Normally I'd attach a photo at the beginning of the matchday notes with the author in action playing a flashy coverdrive or looking half capable. As it's me writing this and a distinct lack of anything half decent I've instead attached the returning Jack Hainsworth in between cigarettes.
It's safe to say that we're all glad the season is starting on time. After months of turbulence and uncertainty it's great that despite changing rooms being closed and no spectators being allowed that we will be looking at a full and competitive league season and we welcome East Bierley to Jenny Lane.
I believe the squad we have assembled in the first team will be competitive, our new signings continue to give the team a youthful look and that can only be a positive over time. Our debutants today are opening batsman Kevin McDermott and opening bowler Joel Fothergill, we wish them both well as they begin their Baildon careers. The batting looks strong as shown in our friendly against Knaresborough last week and the bowling whilst still relatively inexperienced at Bradford League level has a decent balance and continue to improve.
Our opponents have gone through their own reshuffle over the past couple of years and like ourselves will be excited by what they could achieve in 2021 so it will be interesting to see how well matched our sides are as we aim to get back to our former glories in the Premier Division.
The second team will open their campaign at Wagon Lane against Bradford & Bingley. Captain Darren Wilson has a fair weight of expectation on his shoulders as promotion is a realistic aim following our achievements in 2020 despite a much shortened season. There is a large pool of players who undoubtedly can contribute at the level so this will make for healthy competition for places and a few selection headaches for Darren!
The third team under new captain David Hodgson make the trip to Cookridge. Finally the threes have what looks like a larger, more capable squad to select from and hopefully 2021 will be a year where we can look upwards rather than over pur shoulders.
The fourth team will have an 18 rather than 22 game season and have a free week this week. Andy Norton will again skipper the side and begin their season next week at Mayfield.
It's been great to see so many people at training and enjoying some normality again as well as the number of potential new players approaching us wanting to get involved. Adam Dean has been instrumental in getting training organised via the Spond app and the sessions have included players from all teams. Whilst some clubs will have gone through a lot of stress getting 2 teams out this weekend we could have comfortably fielded 4 and probably got up to 5. This is testament to the hard work of everyone at the club from the captains to the junior section as we continue to build and progress.
You will have seen the article from our Clubperson of the Year James Butterfield about being Covid secure, if you've not yet read this please do so as soon as you can. Whilst it's not mandatory we also recommend that you take advantage of being able to test yourself for Covid twice a week, many of you will already be doing this whether it be through work or having children. It's straightforward, pain free and more importantly gives you piece of mind before you play on a Saturday. Please visit the gov.uk website for details on how to order a home testing kit.
Some of our members will have recently begun fasting for the month of Ramadan, I'm aware of the demands of this whilst playing so are grateful for your continued efforts on the pitch.
Good luck to all the teams today and fingers crossed for a clean sweep of victories!