Kirkburton skipper Craig Fletcher reckons the 2016 Drakes League title race will be a close run thing – and he’s determined his side will be a part of it.
The Riley Lane side have already faced Hoylandswaine, Shepley, Delph and Scholes in a testing start to the Premiership campaign.
They’ve picked up 12 points and are at home to bottom-placed Shelley today, but Fletcher is particularly frustrated to be sitting it out tomorrow when the second round of the All Rounder Sykes Cup is played.
Kirkburton, semi-finalists last season, were knocked out in the first round by Thongsbridge of the Jedi Sports Championship.
“A few lads from last year have moved on and a few have dropped to the second team, so we are looking to build over the next couple of years with some new young faces,” explained Fletcher.
“We haven’t started the season too well bowling wise and that’s cost us massively, with teams getting away from us, and in the Cup against Thongsbridge we dropped seven catches, so we didn’t deserve to win the game. You wouldn’t expect that sort of fielding in the Under 13s. It’s not good enough, and it cost us.
“With not bowling as well as we should, it’s been tough on the batters, because we’ve been chasing 300 twice, so having got the win against Scholes the aim now is to try and get a run together and build in the games that are ahead.”
EU-qualified Australian Sam Evans, Toby Booth (Scholes), Jack Hendy (Farsley) and Chavez Younes (Methley) are the new arrivals aiming to make a mark.
And Evans, a 21-year-old from Perth, certainly did that in the opening match, with 176 against Hoylandswaine.
“On our day we are capable of knocking over anyone,” said Fletcher.
“We are solid at the top of the batting order, we’ve got strength in our bowling attack and it’s just a matter of making sure we all perform.
“We can’t rely on individuals in any one game to carry us through, we’ve got to perform as a team and, when we do that, I genuinely believe we’ve got a chance of beating anyone in the league.”
Fletcher described the Sykes Cup defeat as “devastating” but says the squad will use that hurt as a driving force to improve in the Premiership.
IT specialist Fletcher is happy with his line-up.
“Sam is an opening batter who has played some first grade in Australia, so I am sure he will score his share of runs this season,” explained Fletcher.
“He has settled in well and he looks a proper player, so we are happy to have him on board.
“Toby Booth has come in to bat at No3, and he’s a solid player, and then we’ve got Chavez Younes from Methley, who is a good all rounder who I played alongside at Yorkshire academy.
“He just needs to get his full confidence back bowling wise, but he’s a good batter and a destructive batter and he will do well for us.
“Jack Hendy, of course, has played in the league before and knows the grounds and players, and he just needs to settle in again and he will play a big part for us.”
Fletcher accepts the league is changing, and he hopes the Drakes will continue to modernise.
“The League haven’t gone for the pyramid system, but I’ve always enjoyed playing at new grounds and against new players so I was a bit disappointed,” he said.
“I was disappointed as a club we didn’t enter the Heavy Woollen Cup this season because I’ve always enjoyed that, and generally I think it has to be best for Yorkshire cricket for the best clubs and best players to be competing against each other.
“A final in Abu Dhabi wouldn’t be bad either!
“I like the rule changes the league have made so far, but I think there is still room to improve things, with things like free hits for front-foot no-balls and 10 overs per bowler.
“That would be proper cricket.”