Slaithwaite skipper Ian Holt has reasons to be cheerful as he battles to keep his side in the Drakes League Premiership this summer.

They may be second from bottom and in the relegation zone right now, but Slawit are only two points adrift of Meltham – who they meet on August 31 – and they are ready to welcome back to action all-rounder signing Chris Kilner, who broke a foot playing football on the eve of the season after switching from Marsden.

On top of that, Aussie capture Nathan Freitag is as good as any overseas arrival in the top flight, doing the business with both bat and ball, and the club have some talented young players waiting in the wings – not just for this season but the next few years as well.

All in all there are plenty of positives after their promotion as Frank Platt Championship champions last summer – but Holt admits they are desperate to stay up to continue the development which is going on.

“Our aim at the start of the season was to make sure we stayed up, maybe consolidate, try and build and let some of the young players come through in the next few years playing Premiership cricket,” said Holt, a popular figure at Hill Top for the last 15 years.

“We didn’t have the best of starts, losing games to both Holmfirth and Meltham after Chris Kilner broke a foot in a football accident and was ruled out.

“On top of that, at the start of the season Jamie Clayton signed for Thongsbridge, which rather scuppered our plans a bit, but we have managed to stabilise things as we’ve gone along and the T20 Trophy seems to have encouraged us to play some better cricket.

“It’s obviously encouraging us that the league is so close and, on any given day, anyone can beat anyone else – I think that has been shown all the way through.

“If you play well in the top section then you are going to have a chance of winning any game, but you need to be playing consistently well, otherwise you are going to get found out and punished.

“It’s been like that in a couple of recent matches against Elland and Golcar when we have been rolled for low scores, but we also know we have the ability to win matches and pick up points.”

Chris Kilner
 

Slaithwaite targeted an Australian overseas following promotion and are delighted to have recruited the 24-year-old Freitag, from Melbourne.

“One possible signing turned us down and another we felt wasn’t of the right quality for what we wanted, so we went for Nathan and he’s been a real asset,” said Holt.

“He has taken wickets, scored his runs and worked with the juniors every week, he is really keen at training and he’s a really, really good player, so we are very happy.”

So who are the juniors coming through?

“We’ve got quite a lot in a good junior system, but the ones who have been involved fairly regularly are the likes of Lewis Bradley and Tom Healey, who have come on in leaps and bounds and are only going to benefit from the experience,” added the skipper.

“Then we’ve got the likes of Harrison Quarmby and Jack Bower, who we have been trying to blood in the T20s and who are on the Yorkshire Pathways. They, too, are showing a lot of promise and will be hoping to be playing in the Premiership in the next two or three years.”

Slawit hope to have Kilner back for today’s trip to Delph and then they are hoping to make the most of their next two league outings, at home to Honley and away to bottom club Holmfirth, which is a real crunch fixture on August 2.

“I’m enjoying the challenge – as skipper you’ve also got all the texts and phone calls and chasing around to do, which can be a pain in the neck at times – and we are hoping to do well in this latter part of the season,” added Holt.

“The only objective, really, is to show our best ability and to pick up a few more wins.

“I’m simply trying to keep us in the Premiership and then we will see how we go next year.”

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