Ben Raven-Hill believes his new-look Thongsbridge side have the match-winning power to become established in the Drakes Premiership this season.
Back at the helm and with the help of vastly experienced coach Tony Robery, Raven-Hill is completely realistic about the objectives at Miry Lane this summer.
Especially being out of the All Rounder Sykes Cup, beaten by Moorlands, the focus is very much on league points, as well as having a bash in the Total Indoor Cricket Solutions T20 Trophy.
They have pedigree in the shortest format, having won the T20 Shield only a couple of years ago, although they lost their first Group game in this year’s Trophy against Armitage Bridge, by two wickets.
But it’s the bread and butter of top-flight involvement which drives Raven-Hill, after many years playing in the second-tier Jedi Sports Championship, and he’s determined to build on last season’s 10th-place finish in the top flight.
“We’ve had a bit of an up-and-down start – we’ve either been brilliant or horrific,” said the talented opening batsman.
“Every game we’ve won, we’ve won pretty comfortably, and every game we’ve lost we’ve not been that great.
“So first and foremost we have to try and establish ourselves in the Premiership again which, if we carry on like we are, should be fine – but we can’t sit easy on that.
“From there we want to push on as high as we can.
“The league this year is so open, with everyone beating everybody else, so apart from Hoylandswaine, I think the opportunity is there to finish as high as possible.”
Raven-Hill, who still wrestling with the fact his team can be 350 one week and 80 all out the next, is encouraged by the depth of talent at his disposal.
It includes exciting new arrival Jack Cassidy from Auckland and Haydn Slodecki, an EU Passport-holding Australian from Perth, in addition to former Joe Lumb Cup player Ben Balmforth from much closer to home.
“We’ve got match-winners which, for a side looking to stay in the Premiership, is a massive thing,” added the skipper.
“We need people who can win us games, and we’ve got them.
“We may not have been the most consistent side so far, but we have picked up six points along the way at some vital times.
“We’ve got two really good lads in (from Down Under).
“Jack Cassidy plays for pretty much the biggest club side in New Zealand (Cornwall CC). He is a wicketkeeper-batsman, but he is just batting for us and he’s had a really good start.
“He has won a couple of games for us already and looks a really good addition.
“Haydn Slodecki plays for Wanneroo District in Perth, another big club, and played first grade all last year.
“He looks a very talented player and hits it very long.
“They are both good in the field, too, and really top lads, so they have fitted in well.
“So, too, has Ben Balmforth from Upperthong, a lad we have wanted for a couple of years now and he’s really hit the ground running.
“He has taken 26 wickets in all competitions and settled in well which, for a lad of his age in the Premiership, is a fantastic effort.”
Another new arrival, spinner Rory France from Kirkburton, has just returned to action following a broken finger, and the other fresh recruit is Saeed Badar from Linthwaite.
Thongsbridge continue to make big strides in developing their facilities under much-respected chairman Alan Moore, whose move to bring in Robery in a management role has been welcomed by Raven-Hill, who has slotted back in as captain to replace Richard Wagstaff from last season.
“I enjoy the on-field side of being captain – the reason I gave up being skipper in the first place is the off-field side of it,” he explained.
“We’ve got Tony in as coach this year and he has taken an awful lot of responsibility away from me.
“I’ve been able to concentrate on the on-field stuff and that’s been fine; it makes a big difference.
“When he has not been here this season we have been nowhere near as switched on and focused, so I feel we are really lucky to have him. It’s a definite plus.”