Lascelles Hall skipper Jonny Bishop believes the historic club will soon be pushing for a return to the Drakes League Premiership.
Highfield Lane has not staged top-flight cricket since 2008, but they have re-organised both on and off the field and are now in positive mood for the future.
They are delighted to be looking forward to Jedi Sports Championship cricket again next summer after winning promotion last season and battling hard in a very even section, and Bishop – the oldest member of their team at 30 – feels they are building in the right way.
“In the winter we lost the likes of Kamran Saleem who moved to Lepton, who was a big part of the side that got promotion, and with John Booth not featuring much after winning the section batting prize, we needed to strengthen and looked to bring in the right players for the club both on and off the field,” said Bishop, whose side have been lifted by the performances of Rahul Bakshi, who plays first-class cricket for Madhya Pradesh in India.
“The aim for this season was always to finish mid table and settle in to which is probably the most competitive league out of the three divisions.
“Hopefully with a few more recruits next season Lascelles Hall will be aiming to push for promotion and get back into the top division.
“This is probably the strongest the club has been since it fell out of the top division.”
Bakshi, who has previously played with Slaithwaite and Elland, has been one of the most prolific batsmen in the Drakes this season with almost 900 runs at an average of 50, and he’s also led the bowling effort with over 30 wickets at 22.
Bishop himself has opened the batting and scored over 400 runs, while his wicketkeeping brother Chris has almost 400 to his credit and Nick Sharp the same.
Former Shelley skipper, the rugby league playing Sam Scott, has helped on the bowling front with 30 wickets and Matthew Simpson is in the mid-20s.
“When I found out Rahul was available it was a no brainer getting someone of his quality to come to the club,” said Bishop.
“He has been outstanding with the bat, averaging very well, and has also chipped in superbly with the ball, taking some vital wickets.
“Rahul just loves being around the club and wants to come back next season and, hopefully, have another successful year at Lascelles Hall.”
Sam Scott and his brother Josh moved from Shelley for the start of the season, as did Sharp, Simpson returned after not settling at Castleford, where his brother plays, and the Hall had Muhammed Hussain to cover for Sam Scott’s injury at the beginning of the season – he then moved on to play in Liverpool when Scott was fit.
“We had a good cup run in the Oddfellows which has helped bring through some of the club’s younger players, as quite a few of the first team squad work on Sundays,” added Bishop.
“The likes of Adam Daffern has made his first-team debut and also represented the Huddersfield Joe Lumb side.
“Adam has consistently performed in the Second XI and with the club’s philosophy of bringing younger players through, it’s been a good opportunity to get him involved.”
Bishop is enjoying his role at the club.
“I’m glad to have been injury free this season after missing half of last season,” he said.
“I have managed to chip in consistently with the bat this season and my brother, Chris, has also chipped in with vital runs as well as having another good year behind the sticks.
“Sam Scott is proven in the Premiership and has strengthened us with both bat and ball.
“He just lives on doorstep, so was a massive bonus attracting him to the club. Unfortunately, he broke his hand the week before season so had to sit it out, but he has returned in good form.
“Nick Sharp is a very proven batter at this level too. He didn’t play much last season due to being in New Zealand, but he’s shown his ability with the bat and is an excellent fielder. He has also captained the side when needed.
“We were glad when Matt Simpson came back from Castleford, where things didn’t work out, because he’s been getting runs and wickets recently and is a really good all-rounder.”
And the positive vibe has also been prominent in the second XI, who have taken the Cedar Court Conference Two title (PLEASE CHECK THIS).
Off the field, the club have thankfully started to fully recover from the fire disaster of a few years ago and have hosted Yorkshire representative games at Under 12 and Under 13 level as well as staging games for the Huddersfield Under 11s.