Brett Randell hopes a productive season with Honley will lead to a contract with Northern Districts back home in New Zealand.
The 22-year-old right-arm seamer made the move from Auckland to ND at the start of the last domestic campaign and made his first-class breakthrough with Plunket Shield matches against Wellington in Mount Maunganui and Otago in Dunedin.
That followed a season with Denby CC in Derbyshire and he’s hoping his second experience of England, in the Drakes League top flight, will herald significant development in his career.
“I very much want to become a regular first-team player with Northern Districts and maybe even get a contract – I will find that out in the next couple of months,” said the former New Zealand Under 19 player.
“That’s what I’m going for and I’ll be having a Skype chat with (ND coach) James Pamment just to track how I’m going over here and to keep letting the staff and management know how I’m getting on.
“Hopefully I will get a contract but, if not, I will go back, work hard and try and cement my place in the team, even without a contract.”
It was that sort of determination which prompted Auckland to give him an initial opportunity and, also, persuaded Pamment to step in.
“I spent a lot of years playing in Auckland (age groups) and I was lucky enough to get a contract with them a couple of years ago,” explained the man who was on a hat trick during his first-class debut.
“However, I wasn’t able to crack the first team and I found myself in a bit of a rut, at which point I thought a move would be good for me.
“It was then that James Pamment got in touch and sorted out a move to ND, and I was involved with the first team and contracted players right from the start.
“I played second team and worked hard and, eventually, I got given a go right towards the end of our season.
“The wickets weren’t too bowler friendly, which is how it is in all cricket these days as they like to favour the batters, but it was a good challenge and I really enjoyed it.
“The ND boys are a great bunch of lads and getting to play with some current Black Caps like Corey Anderson and Ish Sodhi was really good.
“Having them around to help welcome me into the team and help me generally was excellent.”
So what are his expectations from playing in the Drakes?
“Not a lot was said to me back home other than to enjoy myself, because that’s when you perform well – if the enjoyment is taken out of it you play poorly,” he continued.
“The main thing is to enjoy myself and I certainly am, so I hope it continues for the rest of the season.
“I’m really loving it at Honley. I know a couple of lads who’ve played in this league and they said Honley was a great club with a great bunch of lads, and the community around here is really nice as well, so I’ve fitted in nicely.”
Randell plays at Northland with former Broad Oak batsman Henry Cooper, the ND star who hit a 44-ball 109 for Rochdale recently. He also knows Scholes’ Joe Carter well.
“It was good to find out a few things about the league before I came, but it’s been even better to find things out for myself, to adjust and adapt as I see fit,” explained Randell, who is looking forward to playing Moorlands in the All Rounder Sykes Cup tomorrow.
“We lost the first two matches of the season against two good teams, Shepley and Delph, but as I said to the boys we were very close to winning both those matches.
“Compared with the start Honley had last year, when it took 11 matches to register a win, I felt that even though we’d lost we were competing, and that was important.
“After that we scored five straight wins.
“It’s only natural that everyone around the club is optimistic because we are in a better place than a year ago.
“The boys are coming to training wanting to work hard and get better and we are preparing for each weekend really well.”
His own game, he believes, is benefiting and he is fully involved in coaching with the junior sections at the club.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for me because in my last year at university cricket took a bit of a back seat, so I’ve been playing catch-up a little,” he added.
“Being in Derbyshire last year and here now has definitely helped my bowling skills.
“Bowling 15 overs is something we don’t have back home, too, and that has really helped with my bowling fitness with longer spells.
“It has also helped in knowing mentally what it takes to bowl those longer spells, so mentally I am definitely in a better place bowling wise. The cricket is different, but it has definitely helped my skills.”