Broad Oak are aiming to put the seal on a “mega enjoyable” season by confirming their return to the Drakes League Premiership on Saturday.

There is a real ‘one club’ feeling at the Colne Valley venue and, with the Seconds already holding the Fired Up Paddock Shield and standing fifth in their table, Lee Baxter’s Firsts are now determined to clinch the Jedi Sports Championship title.

Among his line-up travelling to Almondbury Wesleyans for the third-last fixture is the vastly-experienced quality batsman Johnny Greaves, who believes the buoyant club will be more than capable of holding their own in the top-flight in 2015.

“It’s been mega enjoyable this summer,” said Greaves, who says for him and Baxter that Broad Oak has always felt like home despite their successes elsewhere.

“We had a decent season last year, but this time, with another year on these young players backs, they have really come to the party and played fantastically well for the most part.

“There has been a bit of good luck along the way and we’ve won a couple of close ones – like Moorlands by two runs when they finished absolutely gutted and we were just the opposite! – but we’ve also played some very good cricket and put ourselves in an excellent position.”

Greaves goes into today’s match having hit 501 runs for the season at 31.31, while Baxter has 530 at 35.33 at the top of the order.

Sven Burluraux has 409 at 31.46, Aussie all-rounder Jarryd Vernon has weighed in with 317, wicketkeeper Tom McCreadie has 314 at an average of almost 45 and teenager Ryan Wadsworth is just short of 300 runs for the campaign.

Vernon has led the wicket-takers with 35 victims at just 14.86, while Jack Wadsworth has 26 at 18.31, Alex Slack 25 at 20.84 and Aussie Dylan Bailie 18 at 23.89, opening the bowling despite persistent back problems.

Everyone in the line-up, however, has benefited from the wise counsel and considerable coaching ability of Richard Horner, an outstanding Oak player himself in the sides who were winning Byrom Shields and Sykes Cups back in the 1980s.

“We have a lot of young lads in the side and we are still capable of having a nightmare, but we also play really well and are capable of giving anyone a scare, as we proved when beating Delph from the top division and running Hoylandswaine to 20 runs despite having the rough end of the stick,” added Greaves.

“I have never come across a player who practices as hard as Sven Burluraux, who nets every day of the week and, when you have a team full of people who like to hit the ball, it’s great to have a player who will go in and graft and get stuck in. He is archetypal that kind of player and just what we’ve needed to hold things together.

Lee Baxter
Lee Baxter
 

“Me and Lee have done okay, but after Sven, Jarryd has come in and shown what a fantastic talent he is going to be.

“He might not have got the volume of runs he would have liked or his talent merits, but he has come to the party big-time with the ball as well and, in time, I think he’s going to be both a fantastic batter and a fantastic bowler.

“The great thing is he is only 19, they think a great deal about him back home Down Under, where he has skippered representative sides and the like, and if it all comes together for him then he could be a smash hit, which is why we are aiming to bring him back next year.”

The Oak seem certain to make the step back up after being relegated from the Premiership alongside Barkisland in 2011.

Greaves says he will look forward to watching them thrive in future years.

“Jack Pulley is an immense talent and everyone just loves watching him bat,” he explained.

“He still needs to make sure he just plays each ball on its merits, instead of being desperate to score runs all the time, and if we can get that patience instilled then he could be anything.

“Ryan Wadsworth has been a revelation and, because he is a big unit, you tend to forget that he’s an Under 17 scoring hundreds at first-team level!

“I dread to think of what he’ll be doing if I go up to the Oak in seven or eight years to watch and he’s still with us, because he has an eye for a ball you just wouldn’t believe.

“His brother Jack is a useful bowler and very dangerous batter, and then we’ve got Alex Slack who is almost the lynchpin of the team.

“Slacky hardly ever bowls a bad spell and he’s a bit of a floater in the batting order. If we have a shutter, he goes in and sorts it out. If not, he can go in and hit down the order.

“Tom McCreadie is averaging up in the 40s with the bat in addition to taking 20 victims behind the sticks – he has really come on with his keeping and worked really hard – and then we’ve got young Daniel Rushworth, who is a good bowler and another talent with the bat.

“I genuinely think Daniel could bat No5 in any other team, so we’ve really only got Dylan who isn’t too bothered about his batting.”

The Oak have been kitted out in new ‘Baggy Blue’ Australian-style hats by groundsman Craig McCreadie – McTurf Sports – and Greaves believes they will enjoy the increased competition of the top flight.

“I’m told the Premiership is much of a muchness this season and, if we were already there, I think we would be among the muchness,” added Greaves.

“There is no petty jealousy at the club like you tend to get in some places and the first and second teams all pull together, and we would certainly back ourselves to do reasonably well in the Premiership.”