Slaithwaite are aiming to make sure their return to the Drakes Premiership becomes permanent from next year.
The famous old club have bounced back at the first time of asking as champions of the Frank Platt Championship – and they’ve done it in some style.
Now, they are already turning thoughts to the return of New Zealand all-rounder Sean Davey and to further strengthening so they can hold their own in the top flight.
And, with a crop of talented young local players also coming through at Hill Top, wicketkeeper captain Ian Holt is confident more good times are just around the corner.
“We want to make sure now we are back in the Premiership that we are competitive, and I am sure we will be,” said Holt, who took five catches in the win against Linthwaite last week to take him to 36 victims behind the sticks.
“It’s not a case of going up and expecting to win the league or anything like that, but we don’t want every summer to become a fight against relegation – we want to compete.
“You never know, of course, how strong clubs are going to be until you see who they’ve signed and who has moved on, but we should have enough quality to do well and if we finish mid-table we will be happy.”
Slaithwaite have excellent new facilities which are certainly worthy of the top flight and the team assembled by cricket chairman Chris Payne have been doing them justice on the pitch.
The bowling revolves around the excellent Dave Berry, who has 73 victims with his left-arm spin variety, and the pace of Davey, the Black Caps Under 19 man who took four last week to push his tally of wickets up to 43 for the summer to add to 608 runs.
That’s a great return at an average of over 50 in his first season of Drakes cricket and, with Abdul Wahid and Mick Illingworth adding 400 runs apiece, Slaithwaite have been able to outgun most of their rivals.
Ex-Scholes men Jamie Clayton and Jack Bryson are in the middle order with experienced Howard Jones and Holt, while left-arm spinner Tom Graham picks up some valuable wickets and young Tom Healey has been getting some overs in.
“We set out with the intention of trying to blood some youngsters and local lads alongside a decent pro, and we’ve been able to do that,” explained Holt.
“There have been a couple of slip-ups along the way, which you’ve got to expect with young lads in the team, but mostly we’ve played good cricket and done well.
“Mick Illingworth came here to bat week in and week out and he’s got 400 runs at 40 and likes to get on with it, giving us a lot of good starts.
“Abdul Wahid has his share of runs as well and Sean’s figures speak for themselves really. He has done really well since being recommended to us by James Pamment at Northern Districts in New Zealand.
“We didn’t really expect him to get so many runs because he came as a bowler, but as soon as we saw him in the nets we pushed him up the order and he’s made the No4 slot his own.
“On the bowling side, I don’t think there’s a better opening partnership in the second division than Sean and Dave Berry, who has been magnificent.
“He’s had a couple of years off for a bit of family time and to play a bit of Evening League, but since he’s come back he’s done superbly and I have no doubt he’ll do well in the Premiership as well.”
So what is the secret of Berry’s success this season?
“He’s just been taking the ball away from the right handers and then he’s got a demon quicker ball,” said Holt.
“I think one or two around the league know about his quicker ball now, but no-one knows when it’s coming, apart from Bez, myself and sometimes the first slip.
“We have a little signal when the quick one is required. I think one or two batters might have worked it out along the way, but not many and that gets him quite a few wickets.
“We are in discussions with Sean to come back next year and, with him and Bez leading the attack, plus hopefully another good addition to the bowling and batting ranks, we think we will be in good shape.”
So how are things shaping up on the Hill Top production line?
“We have got a really good junior set-up thanks to Payney and others who put in endless hours of work,” added Holt.
“They work tirelessly for the club all through the year and, on a Thursday night, you can’t move for juniors out on the field, which is absolutely brilliant.
“Lewis Bradley is one who is coming through nicely now and scored a hundred in the second team a few weeks ago, while in the younger age groups we’ve got Jack Bower doing really well as part of the Yorkshire set-up and Harrison Quarmby as well. We are really looking forward to them doing well for this club over the upcoming years.”