They've almost slipped under the radar this season, but Barkisland are suddenly featuring big and strong towards the top of the Drakes League Premiership.
Skipper Darren Robinson has set his new-look side the target of a top-five finish following last season’s disappointing 10th.
And hopes are high at Woodfield they could do even better, after taking 23 points from the last 24 available to close within two points of third-placed Scholes.
Barkisland are also going strongly in the allroundercricket.com T20 Trophy and, after sweeping all before them in the group stages – beating Golcar, derby rivals Elland and Hall Bower – they have a home clash on Tuesday against Delph in the quarter-finals (6.30).
Robinson, now 34 and enjoying his cricket as much as ever, says his charges have enjoyed gaining momentum after a frustrating exit in the arrowselfdrive Sykes Cup against Jedi Sports Championship side Thongsbridge.
“The last few weeks have been very good with a string of wins in the league and T20 – certainly much better than the previous month,” said Robinson, whose men haven’t lost since being turned over by a seven-wicket haul from Slaithwaite’s Nathan Freitag on May 31.
“Going out of the Sykes Cup was a bad weekend for us because we felt comfortable about being drawn at Thongsbridge and felt we could perform, but we ended up falling just short.
“Since then, we’ve played some good cricket and the lads are enjoying themselves. We’ve turned it around a little bit, although the wet decks we’ve been playing on are hardly batters’ wickets!”
Barkisland have two Australians from Melbourne in their ranks this season – all-rounder LJ Brown and leg-spinner Chris Williams (who has an English passport because his mother was born in Leeds).
They have also added wicketkeeper Phil Ackroyd from Buttershaw St Paul’s in a nicely balanced line-up.
With the bat, Robinson and vice-captain Alex Kaye are around the 300-run mark and James Summerscales and Set Oddy are both over 200, while with the ball, opener Alex Scholefield already has 36 wickets at 15.61, off-spinner Matt Steers 21 at 15.38 and Williams 20 at 16.70.
“Schoey coming back from Skelmanthorpe has given us a great boost, LJ Brown has toured here for the last four years – playing down south and up in Scotland – and it’s great to have a leggie in Chris Williams, who we don’t have to play as an overseas,” added Robinson.
“Callum Thompson, who has come through the juniors, is bagging some wickets as well and it’s good to have someone who simply offers you raw pace. At this level, that’s a big thing and a major help to the team.
“As I’ve said, we’ve put some good results together, we have a side which seems suited to the T20 as well, so we are hoping to go further in that competition, but our goal was to finish in the top five and, as we get into the second half of the season, that’s still what we are aiming for.
“We had a bit of a scrap to stay out of the relegation battle last summer, so this year we were determined to do a lot better and that’s what we are pushing to do, although it seems a very tight league where everyone can beat everyone else on their day.”
The current upsurge at senior level is being mirrored among the Juniors, who are always well run at the Calderdale club.
“We are into three finals with the Under 13s, 15s and 17s and the first two of those teams are at the top of their leagues as well,” explained Robinson.
“There is some good talent coming through – we’ve got a few of them in the first team already – and we’ve also set up a girls team this season, who have won three out of the four games they have played.”
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