Judge us on the second half of the season.
That’s the message from skipper Robin Broom as a young Elland side set their sights on Drakes Premiership survival.
There’s been months of upheaval at Hullen Edge, with players leaving at the end of last season and more during the present campaign.
It’s meant a testing time for 25-year-old EU-passport holding South African Broom and his team – which includes four Under 17 players – but he believes they are capable of grinding out the vital wins they need.
“It’s been a bit tough because we have had players leave both last season and this, but we’ve got a good group of lads now and we are determined to dig in,” said Broom, who is based in England now and working at Kellogg’s.
“I can’t think of any other team who have as many juniors as us in the top flight, but they will all get better and better in the future, so the aim is to stay up this year and keep people around for next and see where we go.”
It’s 12 years since Elland were champions and 14 since they last lifted the Sykes Cup.
They were a powerhouse in the 1980s, of course, but the 2016 side are not weighed down by history, they are simply a line-up in transition.
“It’s up to us to win a few games now and take responsibility for ourselves,” added Broom, who is from the Eastern Cape, near Port Elizabeth, but moved to Perth in Australia for university.
“The table is quite tight, and while we haven’t been doing so well, the two teams below us haven’t been doing too well either.
“We’ve been quite fortunate in that regard, but we can’t keep finising games and hoping the others have done badly again – we have to start taking that responsibility.
“It would give us a massive boost just to get a couple of wins and move into a decent position, because we have now played all the top clubs with the exception of Armitage Bridge, so these next few games are a big opportunity for us.”
Elland have a huge home game against bottom club Shelley today before a trip to fifth-bottom Cawthorne’s Dark Lane next Saturday.
“We’ve literally been trying to get to know a new group of lads in this first part of the season,” explained Broom, who played two years of first-grade cricket with the University of Western Australia club.
“When you look at other teams, the core people have all played together for five years or more, whereas we have all been finding out about each other.
“With everything that’s gone on with us so far, I don’t think we can be too greedy or expect too much.
“It’s taken us a bit to get to know each other, but we know a couple of wins will do us the world of good, we all feel we are good enough to stay up and it’s a matter now of proving that to everyone.”
Elland’s overseas signing this year is 6ft 5in right-arm seamer Josh Dallimore, who plays in Perth for the same University club as Broom did.
Alastair Finn is guiding the attack from the other end, with 18 wickets so far, while young Liam Senior has stepped up from the second team and had his share of success.
Mark Hinchliffe is providing back-up, along with Broom himself and Harish Krishnesh.
The top-order batting is also youthful with Saqib Matlub from Almondbury Wesleyans slotting in alongside ex-Golcar player Muhammad Ali. Jacob Bower has also been hitting form while Liam Fletcher, Broom and Muhammad Wadee have all contributed along the way.
Resources have been stretched by the in-season departures of Siraj Sajid to Kirkburton and keeper Benji Birkhead to Scholes, but Broom is optimistic for improved results down the line.
“We will stick together, we have some talented lads and we’ll aim to stay up,” said the skipper.
“I’ve been here for two seasons and wasn’t part of the league before that, I know the club have been successful in the past, but from all the changes I’ve seen while I’ve been here, you can’t expect anything other than a transitional period.
“We just have to look to keep the players we have, look to add a few more new faces at the end of the year and go from there. If we all pull together like we are, we will be okay”
Broom accepts it’s tough learning on the hoof, especially in a competitive division like the Premiership, where Elland won seven matches last season to finish fourth from bottom.
So far this season they have won won, picked up four single points from defeats and had one match abandoned (12 points in total).
“There is a good team spirit because we are all getting to know everyone, and to be fair we are still finding out how everyone plays,” added Broom.
“So I would say, because of all the changes, judge us on the second half of the season rather than the first.
“Hopefully we will pick up from here and get the results we want, because we do have the ability.”