Moorlands are half way to achieving their goals for the season – and they are in no mood to let the big target slip away.
The excellently-run Mirfield club have the allroundercricket T20 Shield in the bag and now they are focused on the treasured prize of a place in the Drakes League Premiership.
Their agonising two-run defeat to Jedi Sports Championship leaders Broad Oak may have pushed Moorlands down to third at the time, but they are back up to second with four matches left and vice-captain Michael Rounding says they have the drive and motivation to see the job through.
“We’ve been in three cup competitions this season and won one of them, the T20 Shield, but our main focus this summer has always been the league,” said Rounding, who skippers the T20 side to give regular weekend captain Andrew Walker a break.
“While we’ve never set any targets as such, we did talk at the outset about winning a cup and getting promoted – whether it’s as champions or in second place is irrelevant.
“Now we’ve won one of the knockout competitions, the real push is for promotion and everyone is focused to trying to get that job done.”
Moorlands are in the habit of winning and, while Broad Oak are now 14 points clear at the top, don’t rule them out of winning a place in the Drakes League Premiership.
Long-time leaders Marsden are just three points behind in third, while the only other realistic contenders for the top-two placings are fourth-placed Thongsbridge, who are four points behind Moorlands on 61.
“We know it won’t be easy, but we are a close-knit group and we will never give up,” added Rounding, 22, the talented keeper-batsman who has been with the club since the age of 13.
“Our club is based on homegrown players like myself, Chris Stott, Andrew Fortis and others and we are a tight squad.
“It’s our philosophy to go forward like that – we don’t want to be signing any players who don’t think about the club first – and we do like to play our cricket as hard as we can.
“We don’t like to give anyone any advantage if we can avoid it, just like any other side, but when we come off the field we like to share a drink with the opposition, talk about the game and socialise – which is what it’s all about.”
A big part of Moorlands success has been the contribution of Australian all-rounder Chris Lloyd, who was the league’s non-EU Player of the Year last season and who has helped them push on after winning the Cedar Court Conference title at a canter.
So will Lloyd be back should Moorlands go up?
“That’s a good question and one which a lot of people have been asking us,” answered Rounding.
“I think I speak on behalf of everyone at Moorlands when I say we would love him to come back.
“He will definitely be offered the chance, that’s for sure, but he’s been here four years already and whether he’s able to come back again I don’t really know.
“His runs and wickets are invaluable, really, and it would be great to have him back, but we will have to wait and see.
“I’m sure we will do our best as a club to try and make it happen, but that decision is really one which only Chris can make for himself.”
Lloyd remains the bowling spearhead, having taken 45 wickets in senior competition this season at an average of 16.40.
Left-armer Walker has picked up 26 wickets so far, at a miserly average of 15.38, while Stephen Lane has also collected 22 victims in an attack which also boasts the canny contribution of Peter Lombard, who had three wickets against Broad Oak.
On the batting front, Louis Aspeling and Andrew Fortis have been outstanding this summer. Experienced Aspeling has 660 runs at 44.00 to be the 11th most prolific batsman in the three Drakes divisions, while the towering Fortis is not far behind on 583 runs, which have come at just under 40.
“Louis and Andrew have been tremendous openers for us and we probably wouldn’t be where we are without them,” added Rounding.
“We’ve got a good all-round team, though, and we want to keep on building.
“Before we came into the Drakes League we won the Central Yorkshire League Division One, and then last year we took the Conference.
“That’s two titles in two years and it does have a big positive impact on the whole club.
“You don’t want to speak too soon about pushing on and winning more things, but we do like to think we are approaching things in the right way, building within the boundaries of our club and, hopefully, that will bring us more success in the years to come.”