With the belated start to the season finally here, Chairman Ashley Free previews the action and looks back on what is fair to say have been a turbulent few months!
So the waiting for Cricket is finally over after months of delays and uncertainty! I firstly want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed towards getting us ready and whilst I wouldn't normally pick out individuals I think it's important to praise the work of James Butterfield who has spent hours of his own time drawing up our Covid protocols and documents. Without his efforts we wouldn't have been in a position to play this season. Secondly, I want to thank all the players for their patience and for sticking to the guidelines during the period when we could only train at the ground. Finally, to our committee who have adapted to holding remote meetings via Zoom and for trawling through email after email with updates and questions!
So to the action today and we welcome Hartshead Moor to Jenny Lane who will have the opportunity to show they are far from being a one man team after Iain Wardlaw's departure to Cleckheaton. We've had some good battles over the past few seasons so hopefully today will be another decent tussle (with Baildon coming out on top of course!).
Today will perhaps see our youngest ever first team to take the field with 4 players under 18 and the oldest player being 35 (sorry Bails).
There have been several changes to our lineup since the end of last season, Dwayne Heke has taken over as captain from Jonny Reynolds although he won't be playing this year due to ongoing concerns over Covid so former captain Simon Bailey will be leading the side until the end of the season. James Ford has re-signed for the club from Pudsey Congs and will open the batting and keep wicket. Ben Howell, an all rounder has joined from Oxenhope, whilst Hassan Shakoor has joined from Bradford & Bingley and we're looking forward to seeing how he gets on with his leg spin. Unfortunately our other two signings, Louie Stronach (now remaining in Norwich) and Devlin Foott (overseas) are unable to pull on a Baildon shirt this season. Players who have moved on are the long standing and Baildon legend Mushtaq Ahmed, Mounam Ejaz and Haris Mohammed who we all wish well in their future cricketing careers.
The two gaps left us with a couple of choices, fill with loan players as other clubs have done or fill them from our second team. The fact that we run and are still able to run 4 Saturday teams the decision was taken to promote from within rather than look for a short term fix. Therefore today will see a first team debut for young pace bowler Sam Kelly. Sam has developed very well through our junior and senior set up and this is an excellent opportunity to see what he can do at first team level. Brother Will Kelly is also stepping up, he has some first team already and again has an opportunity to show what he is capable of. We wish them both luck along with Sam Woledge-Wilkinson (another under 18) who is also playing today. Naturally there are players within the club who will also be looking at opportunities in the first team and it's great that we're now starting to see genuine competition for places, this will only benefit the club in the long term.
You may notice a new name on the front of our shirts this season, after many years of sponsorship from Thompson Davis we will this year begin our sponsorship from Saltaire Brewery. They will be assisting with our future Beer Festivals and it's great to have them on board. We would like to thank John Wildman for his long standing support of the club.
The second team travel to Cleckheaton, the thirds host Shipley Providence in a local derby and the fourths make the trip to Mayfield B. Good luck to all our teams.
Finally please ensure you follow the guidance set out on our website, make sure you have your own hand sanitizer and maintain social distancing at all times. Looking at other clubs I can say we have taken the guidance very seriously and taken nothing for granted, some clubs don't even have anything on their websites about where to park, where to go etc. so will cause confusion, I'm proud that we're leading the way on that front to keep everyone safe.