Skipper James Crossland is hoping greater consistency will bring Skelmanthorpe success as the Drakes Premiership season unfolds.
There is a new look to the Lidgett Lane club both on and off the field and, while they’ve not picked up the league points they would have wished for so far, they are through to the last eight of the arrowselfdrive Sykes Cup against Thongsbridge and looking ahead with a very positive mindset.
New signings Tuseif Arshad, Paul Cummins and Australian first-class player Tom Beaton have all made an impact so far on a playing squad which has been shorn of Alex Scholefield (back to Barkisland) and Haroon Rashid, who hasn’t been able to play due to work commitments.
“We are focusing on trying to build for the future and we want to push at the right end of the table,” said Crossland, who is just back to bowling after recovering from a left shoulder operation in the winter.
“Ideally you want to be top four or top six and an extended Cup run would be great.
“We are not trying to bite off too much at this early stage – it’s one step at a time – but we are just looking for extra consistency more than anything else to help push us along.”
Arshad is among the leading wicket-takers in the top flight already, while Cummins piled up the wickets against Scholes last weekend while sharing in a Cup second-round winning partnership with Beaton, the former Australia Under 19 captain who, at 23, is still contracted with Western Australia at the WACA.
“Paul Cummins from Sheffield United is opening the batting and is also a very good off-spin bowler,” explained Crossland, whose father Graham has stepped in as chairman so that long-serving Margaret Dollive can wind-down her involvement.
“Paul has formed a great partnership already with Tim Sykes at the top of the order with several 80 and 90-run starts, which is providing a platform for the more aggressive hitters later on.
“Tom Beaton is brilliant, an absolutely class act, and we will not only learn a lot from him – he’s already been coaching the lads – but he will score a lot of runs this summer as well and do a perfect job for us at No3.
“Tuseif is a very good bowler who swings it and is proving a fantastic signing from Saltaire, but the best thing about them all is that they are great lads and they have fitted into the club superbly.”
Bjorn Taylor provides solid back-up with bat and ball, Josh Ingham is another leading spinner for the side with neat variations of pace and Sykes has started the season well at the top of the order.
“Tim has been fantastic for us and he is very under-rated,” said Crossland.
“He is often the guy there with 60 when you want to start going and he makes partnerships, allowing other people to bat well around him.
“He would have had 1,000 runs last season without any doubt if he hadn’t missed six games and he’s off to a great start this time, so we rate Tim very highly and he’s a great lad as well, so a top man to have in the side.”
There are plenty of new faces involved on the committee at ‘Shat’ and Crossland says the whole club is pulling together.
“We are quite a young side, but we are all mates, which is fantastic, and we are pretty athletic on the field which is good as well,” he continued.
“The new lads have fitted in really well, everyone is helping out with Tom Beaton coaching as well and there is a really good vibe about the place.
“Margaret Dollive has been unbelievable for our club with 30-odd years service and over 20 as chairman and she is trying to wind down so she can watch her lads a bit more, which you can’t blame her for, so my old man has stepped in as chairman and mum (Bev) has taken on the treasurer job. I only need to get my sister involved now and it will be the full family!
“As I said earlier, we are just taking things one step at a time, but it’s enjoyable so far and we are looking to do well.”
On his injury, Crossland explained: “I hurt my left bowling shoulder two years ago while throwing, not bowling, and it wasn’t right, so I’ve had it cleaned out and all tied back together.
“It’s been six months of tough rehabilitation, but I’m getting there and, having had four overs against Almondbury Wesleyans the other week, it was good to get some overs against Scholes in the league and cup double header.”
Want to read, watch and hear more? You can download the FREE Examiner Apple App here, the FREE Examiner Android App here or you can view the paper as an e-edition on your Apple, Android or Kindle device by clicking here
To follow us on Twitter click here