JUST ask John Terry – success or failure can be decided by the smallest of margins.
Even for local cricket teams, success can depend on the ability to keep their squads healthy throughout the season, which ultimately decides whether they remain among the front-runners or fall by the wayside.
And unfortunately for Elland, they have already had more than their fair share of knockbacks on the injury front this season, the latest being a massive blow with the loss – probably for the remainder of the season – of all-rounder Greg Buckley.
The former Micklehurst teenager, who has played with Lancashire’s Academy side and featured in a televised Richard Benaud ‘masterclass’ three years ago during the Ashes series, broke an ankle last week playing soccer, and is now likely to sit out the remainder of the summer.
“It really is a huge blow, both to the club and the lad himself,” said Elland’s cricket chairman Dennis Midwood.
“Greg was an important piece of the jigsaw we had put together, and the lad had started off really well, getting both runs and wickets.
“He was also a superb fielder and was such a bubbly character he fitted in so well in the changing room.
“He had an operation last Friday, having his ankle pinned, but it’s likely to be six to eight weeks before the plaster is removed and then he will have to start exercising, so if we get anything out of him again before the end of the season it will be a bonus.”
Buckley, who was expected to figure with Lancashire Seconds this season, had been playing cricket in South Africa during the winter where he had been doing well, and he carried that form over to the start of Elland’s season, hitting an impressive and unbeaten 62 against Lascelles Hall in the opening game, as well as taking a five-for against Holmfirth. But the Buckley blow is only the latest of several setbacks that skipper Gary Jakeman has had to contend with this season.
Yorkshire second teamer Ajmal Shahzad was another to fall by the wayside, after playing just one game, and then suffering a pulled hamstring which has ruled him out of both Elland and Yorkshire games for the last six weeks.
“Things are just not quite going our way at the moment,” continued Midwood.
“As well as Greg and Ajmal, Rob Laycock pulled a hamstring before the start of the season, and pulled up against Delph on Monday, while Ryan Robinson has been struggling with a back injury following a spell at Clayton West in the Cup.
“And then to cap it off, our Aussie Cameron Borgas picked up a side strain while fielding at Delph, just when he was bowling well too, so at the moment we having to more or less patch players up and get them back out there.”
It’s not all bad news of course for the Hullen Edge side as Richard Blakey is showing the quality which made him a Yorkshire regular for so many years, while top all-rounder Jimmy Thornton has returned after a shoulder operation during the winter.
“It was a massive plus to us when Blakes (Richard Blakey) came back to us and got involved because we are now doing things which we never thought would happen at Elland.
“He is doing a lot of the coaching, including working with our young wicketkeeper Greg Finn, while Gary (Jakeman) is doing the mentoring.”
Ironically, for what is a pretty young side, it’s the two ‘elder statesmen’, Blakey and Jakeman, who have not succumbed to injury problems so far.
“Blakes is the only one who has really made a score so far this season, although Jimmy, Gary and Rob Laycock all got 20s last week against Barkisland which in the end helped us post a total.
“As far as the bowling is concerned, we know we have the smallest opening attack in the League with Craig Fletcher and Danny Rhodes, but their attitude is superb and are both willing to learn as is keeper Greg Finn, who has come on in leaps and bounds as a cricketer.
“He was opening the batting with the Seconds, but is now having to bat at No11 in the first team, which just goes to show we can bat all the way down to 11, although in fairness we haven’t been doing yet.
“We know we have better things to come.
“But if we want to be battling for the League title at the end of the season, which we do, then we known we can’t afford to lose more than four or five games all season – and we’ve already lost two of those – so now we need to put together a winning run.
“Everyone is going to take points off everyone else this season, but I reckon we can’t afford to lose more than another two games.
“Nobody is going to give you anything for nothing in this life, but we know we are as good a side as any in the League and if things start going our way (which they haven’t from an injury point of view so far) then we have as much chance as anyone else.”