Mirfield Parish Cavaliers will be welcome additions to the Jedi Sports Championship next summer – and they are far from daunted at the prospect.
The Wellhouse Lane club have powered through their first season of Drakes League cricket and are aiming to seal the Cedar Court Conference title with a win at Almondbury.
Already promoted alongside Almondbury Wesleyan, Parish have lived up to their billing since joining from the Central Yorkshire League Premier section and lost only one Conference match.
That was at home to Lepton back in May, but the winning habit has been fostered with some style by skipper Tim Orrell and his well-balanced line-up, which includes first-class Pakistani overseas professional Nazar Hussain.
“The key goal at the outset was to win promotion, because we are a better side than the division we are in,” said leading run-scorer Orrell, who was on the books of Lancashire in his youth.
“That’s no disrespect to the other teams, because they have all been trying to knock us over and knock us off the top, but we’ve played some decent cricket, we’ve got a good overseas and the bowling and batting line-ups are pretty well balanced.
“But the best thing of all is our team spirit, because it’s absolutely cracking.
“That’s like having a 12th man playing for you, and I really do feel sometimes it’s the difference between a good cricket side and an excellent cricket side.
“We’ve got a really good set of lads and we’ve enjoyed ourselves, so it’s onwards and upwards as far as we are concerned.”
Few would bet against Parish doing what their village neighbours Moorlands did a couple of years back by winning successive promotions.
The 28-year-old Hussain, who plays for State Bank in Pakistan and has 47 first-class matches to his credit, is signed on again for 2017 and he’ll be bidding to add to his 67 wickets so far at 9.64, plus the 633 runs he has plundered at 52.75.
Those are impressive figures, especially when Orrell has piled up 920 runs at 61.33 to augment the batting stats, while Danny Padgett provides the main bowling back-up to Hussain with 39 victims at 14.28.
“Naz is a quality overseas and one of the lads,” said Orrell, 49 later this year.
“We expect a lot of him but he is a real 100% player, and I reckon he is a little bit too good at times.
“Everyone expects him to be knocking the stumps all over the place all the time, but he bowls some really good lines and lengths and he produces some absolutely beautiful deliveries which, to be honest, first-class batsmen wouldn’t touch either.
“With the bat he’s a left-hander and strikes the ball really nicely, so he’s a quality all-round cricketer and you wouldn’t meet a nicer lad, so he fits in really well with us and takes all the stick that gets thrown at him from his teammates!”
Parish have been without broken-arm victim Tom Fretwell, but Padgett has done a solid job with the ball and Orrell can call on the likes of Danny Hope, Connor Rowlands – who had four wickets at Denby Dale last week – and Jamie Hardcastle’s spin if he needs to.
Vice-captain Dave Blakeley is at the top of the order, Terence James brings flamboyance to the No3 position – “he’s exciting to watch but a bit too exciting at times!” smiles Orrell – and then after Hussain, there is plenty of run potential down the order from the likes of Dave Bolt, Will Smeaton, Hardcastle and Hope.
“We haven’t much to gauge things on, but we are looking forward to competing at the higher level next year,” added Orrell.
“I think we would have beaten (Premiership) Cawthorne in the Cup if we’d had a fifth bowler on the day, and we played Thongsbridge, who are top of the Championship, in the T20 Shield.
“It was our first T20 match because of the bad weather and we batted a little bit irresponsibly, we were a bit giddy and got bowled out, which wasn’t very clever.
“We had only 126 to defend but, even then, we took them to the wire at Thongsbridge, which is a nice ground and a good wicket, and we put up a good fight.
“So without any disrespect to anyone, I don’t see any problem with us stepping up.
“We’ve got a good nucleus to the side – we might possibly need an extra batsman – and you have to remember these Parish lads made the decision to move from the Central Yorkshire to the Huddersfield League and they want to be successful.
“It’s a really good club and our aim is to finish this season off as champions and then look forward to next year.”