Delph & Dobcross are determined to put a winning run together in the second half of the Drakes League season.

The Huddersfield Road club had been struggling for points until whacking 300-plus at Scholes a couple of weeks ago and skipper Grant Jones is focused on building on that result.

They were denied by the rain last weekend, despite starting against Slaithwaite, but Jones has a talented line-up at his disposal and feels they have the capability to make a big improvement.

The 46-year-old Jones, one of those in favour of fielding circles and leg-side wides in Drakes League cricket, explained: “We made a really good start and were third in the league after half a dozen games, but then we hit a spell where we just couldn’t get over the line in matches.

“We were playing good cricket for 70% of the time and happy with that, but then for 30% we just weren’t competing and that was mainly through the batting.

“Winning is a habit, but so is losing and we fell into that bad habit. We would be getting a great start and would be maybe 170-2 chasing 220, but we wouldn’t be able to see it through.

“Two out of three disciplines would be fine but then we would slip up on the third, and that’s what has held us back.”

In Lancashire’s Arron Lilley and overseas signing Jamshad Ahmad (known as Jimmy), Delph have two of the best all-rounders in the Premiership.

Lilley has almost 500 runs at over 42 to add to his 27 wickets at 21.07, while Jamshad has 34 wickets at 18.85 and 298 runs at 27.09.

Greg Buckley adds power with both bat and ball, Craig Fletcher has been in excellent form and then there’s always Luke Hargreaves – capable of clearing any boundary on the continent.

“Jimmy and Arron are very good cricketers and will always make a contribution,” said Jones, who started his career at Delph at the age of just eight.

“Arron had a very good start with the bat but then got into a run where he was making 30 or 40 and then getting out. Jimmy has done exactly the same, but he’s an excellent bowler and it’s a shame we haven’t been able to make more of the very good starts we’ve generally been getting from Graeme Simpson and Andrew Gleave at the top of the order.

“They’ve put us in a lot of good positions but then the middle order just hasn’t been firing.”

Arron Lilley
Arron Lilley
 

New signings this season included Andrew Cadd and Jonny Forrester (along with Buckley, Fletcher and Gleave), while Delph are also keen to bring through their juniors, with Lancashire age-group player Nathan Jones and Joe Lumb Cup player Siraj Sajid leading the way.

“On paper we have a very good side and, when we produce all three disciplines and perform, I would back us against anybody,” said Jones, who had two years as pro at Stayley and another two at Flowery Field before returning to Delph 16 years ago.

“Our target for the rest of the season is to win some games and get a run going.

“We want to get into good habits and improve that final discipline, because we have struggled with the batting.

“Another factor is to bring the kids on, because it is important clubs produce their own players.

“We have Nathan in the first-team at the moment and Siraj is involved as well, having taken a five-for in the T20, so we have got youngsters who we are trying to blood.

“If we can do that alongside playing good cricket and getting on a winning streak, then we’ll have more positives going forward.”

Jones – a league and Sykes Cup winner – is still enjoying keeping wicket as well as leading his troops.

“I just love playing at the weekends,” he beamed.

“It’s obviously not as enjoyable being captain when you’re not winning and you are coming in for criticism from your own supporters, but I’ve done it for 14 years now and I’ve got broad shoulders.

“I am not getting any younger, but fitness permitting – it’s not easy keeping wicket when your back and legs are aching – I am going to keep going as long as I can.

“They always say you are a long time retired, so I’ll put that back as far as I can.”

So who does he fancy to win the Byrom Shield?

“Hoylandswaine are a strong, all-round side and you have never got them beaten, so I would say they’ll take the title,” he answered.

“When you’ve got Michael Cranmer coming in at six or seven, you know you are strong, and then they have brought in the new opening bowler in Zafir Patel, so they haven’t really got a weakness.

Hoylandswaine captain Michael Cranmer
Hoylandswaine captain Michael Cranmer
 

“Shepley will be there or thereabouts even without Tom Denton because of football, while Skelmanthorpe have been doing well and will certainly miss Tom Beaton when he returns to Australia.

“I think it’s been good this summer, though, because there is not so much of a big gap between a lot of the sides in the Premiership.

“Even teams down the bottom are winning matches and it’s competitive, with a good standard of cricket.”

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