Matt Gummerson is one of a crop of bright young captains in the Drakes League Premiership, and he’s fully aware of the responsibility he shoulders at Holmfirth.
The 27-year-old believes teamwork will carry the Bridge Fold club a long way towards staying up this season, and he accepts that’s a massive priority with plans afoot to sell the famous old field for supermarket development and uproot to a new home in the next few years.
He has six new faces in the side – they survived on the final day last year, when SP Singh was the leading pro – including teenage South African all-rounder Justin Gamble from Benoni, and while they picked up their first points of the campaign in last weekend’s rain-off against Scholes, Gummerson is confident there’s plenty more to come.
“Holmfirth has a long-standing history within the area, it’s been a very good club and a lot of people put time and effort into it, so the lads need to respect that and pull together,” said Gummerson, whose side visit Slaithwaite today.
“I feel it’s all about team spirit and we need to build on that with everyone working together and fighting for each other out on the field.
“We are already instilling that, although with six new faces it’s bound to take a few weeks to gel and bond together, but we are getting there now and all the lads are really contributing.”
Beaten by Shelley, Elland and Barkisland, Holmfirth had Hoylandswaine on the ropes before falling foul of Michael Cranmer (99) and Alan Mynett (80 not out) in their defeat at Haigh Lane, which preceded a Sykes Cup exit against Honley. when the home side’s Simon Kelly got a ton to steer them to victory.
Kasir Maroof, who signed from Baildon in the Bradford League, got encouraging runs in both those last two matches, as did Gamble on his arrival in this country, and Gummerson is also hoping former Hall Bower man Shabir Rashid will do well.
“It’s all about teamwork for me,” said Gummerson, who started his career at Thurstonland but was approached to move to Holmfirth by Bruce Jakeman and has been at the club for 10 years.
“Shabir got a nice 74 in the Sykes Cup and Kasir and Justin had 30-odd apiece, so they are good additions and it’s about lads putting up their hands to be counted.
“It’s an unforgiving standard and, as we found out against Hoylandswaine, when we had them 130-6 and they ended up with 270-7, you can’t give teams chances when you are on top, otherwise they will come back at you and hit you hard.
“Kasir looks a good opening batsman and he’s also a useful little swing bowler as well.
“He’s had a couple of starts with the bat and also picked up some wickets, including a four-for against Hoylandswaine when he took out most of their top order.
“He’s one of a number of lads in their early 20s or teens, so we’ve got a really athletic young side and fingers crossed we can do what we need to do.
“As I’ve said, it’s all about the team. One thing you find, especially with someone like SP Singh, is that it’s all about himself and his own game, which is understandable and he will win you matches, but now we have two or three lads in place of one and they are pulling together with the rest of us.
“We will push forward as much as we can and the priority is staying up.
“With all that’s going on off the field regarding super markets and the like, we need to make sure we are still in the Premiership to take advantage of the changes which are coming our way.
“So we need to make sure we beat the teams who are down towards the bottom and also take crucial points in other matches as well.”
Gummerson is enjoying leading the side, particularly one which is young and giving its all.
“We have a good set of players who are pulling together,” he explained.
“The committee are very forward thinking with all that’s going on off the field and they are also supporting me with the cricket side, so hopefully all will go well.
“We have had Rob Denton and Gary Jakeman come down here over the last few seasons and I’ve always been in and around the captaincy side, but it is a learning curve when you have a young side. All we need is everyone pulling together, and that’s what we are getting.”
Gummerson is right behind the League’s bid to bring in more changes, too, following on from the revamp of the arrowselfdrive Sykes Cup.
“It makes you think more as a captain when you can’t bowl people through and there’s a fielding circle and leg-side wides,” he explained.
“You can’t rely on one player to bowl 25 overs at one end any more and so it tests out your players. So instead of watching someone who is being paid thousands bowling through, it gets your local lads more involved and that has to be good.
“It will also give us higher scoring games and more entertaining cricket, and that gets my vote.
“There is nothing worse than negative, poor cricket and I think if we are going to play we should be encouraged to play to win.”
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