KIRKBURTON have already reached one final – but have their sights set on a much bigger prize this season.
Tomorrow they face last year’s runners-up Golcar in the final of the Romida Twenty/20 Trophy at Swallow Lane, looking to gain their first piece of silverware for the Riley Lane clubhouse.
However, skipper Matthew Wood knows that his side can scoop even greater glory if they can maintain the sort of form which has brought them eight successive victories in recent weeks (prior to last Saturday’s hiccup to Hoylandswaine) which has seen them soar to second in the Premiership.
A hiccup is what Wood will be hoping last week’s performance was, as they embark on the reverse fixture today at Hoylandswaine, but the former Yorkshire batsman’s main aim is to be still within striking distance of the leaders going into the last month.
“To be in the pack in the last month is what we set out to do at the beginning of the season, and if we’re still there then, who knows?” said Wood.
Kirkburton have not tasted success since 2003, when they lifted the Sykes Cup for the third time in four seasons, having also won the League title in 2002, which coincidentally was the last time all-rounder Ryan Robinson was on board.
But it’s no coincidence they have become a very competitive club this summer since the return of Robinson, although there are several other factors on which to pin their resurgence.
One is the recruitment of Greg Buckley, who has crossed town to join Kirkburton alongside his former Elland teammate Robinson.
“There’s no denying Robbo’s got a soft spot for the club, having done so well here before, and he knew what we were trying to achieve and build at the club. It was through him that Greg came along too, and he’s done a great job for us,” said Wood.
“And just before the start of the season Shaun Woodhams joined us from nearby Lascelles Hall, which was the icing on the cake really. So we’ve been lucky enough to sign a bit of experience which is always a bonus. All the new signings have done well, and that’s had the effect of rubbing off on the others.
“To be fair, last season we struggled a bit, as we did at the start of this year, but now I think we’ve got a decent unit and a good blend. We have a lot of Burton lads at the club which is good, but every team needs that bit of experience as well.”
A Yorkshire cap and Drakes League title winner with Honley, Wood has been leading the run charge at Burton this season, and is closing on 700, while his opening partner Andy Smith has topped 600 and Buckley is the third highest scorer with just short of 600, which includes seven half-centuries, demonstrating his consistency.
“We’ve obviously missed Charlie Roebuck this season (he’s played only half-a-dozen matches) because the lad is struggling with a back injury, but then it was always going to be a bit up in the air this season because of his commitments with Durham,” continued Wood.
“And on top of that we’ve been without Tom Burkinshaw for quite a while after he pulled a hamstring earlier in the season, so we’ve really been missing our two front-line seamers.
“To be where we are in the League is great credit to the lads who have stepped up, like Matt Garrety and our two young spinners Josh Ingham and Ollie Davidson, who have all done a really good job for us.
“Ryan (Robinson) had not bowled much last season at Elland, but when we’ve needed to break a partnership he’s been a bit of a ‘go-to’ player this season, and he’s really enjoyed his bowling. It’s almost as if he’s got a second wind for it.
“But the most pleasing thing is we’ve got matchwinners all the way down which generates a good team spirit and in turn creates a good atmosphere around the club.
“Obviously we were very disappointed to lose in both Cups, going out to Shelley in the first round of the Sykes Cup and then being beaten by Shepley in the Heavy Woollen, but getting to the final of the Twenty/20 is a bonus and I think the freshness we have shown in that competition has showed in our Saturday cricket.
“At the moment there could be any one of six teams capable of winning the League. Obviously Delph & Dobcross are the team to catch, but I think there’ll be some twists and turns before the end of the season.
“I genuinely believe the League is very strong at the moment and it is just a great shame there is no longer a senior representative competition, because I think we’d have a really good side now.
“If someone goes on an unbeaten run then they’ll deserve to win the League, but as I’ve said our aim is to be in the pack going into the last month.”