In the latest Club in Winter feature, Reg Nelson looks at the prospects of Northowram Fields for 2019 with committee man John Lister.
Fortunes at the club declined slightly in 2018, and they had to settle for ninth position in Championship Two after enduring four straight defeats at the start of the season.
Lister topped the batting scoring 613 league runs at 43.79, with a top score of 147, while Dru Patel (527 runs) and Josh Bennett Keer (36 wkts) were the other main achievers.
It will be a new-look Northowram Fields which takes to the field in 2019 as wholesale changes have been made.
Lister has stepped down as skipper after five seasons but will act as deputy to Dru Patel in a Championship Two season which has an eye-catching opening fixture away to last season's Conference hampions, Jer Lane on April 27.
Lister said: “The bowling attack has had major surgery with spearhead Josh Bennett supplemented by captures Sam Gardner from Lightcliffe, Humayan Shahzad from Keighley and Australian all-rounder Billy Campbell”.
“Dean Crossley, a prolific run maker for Southowram in the Halifax League for several years, has also signed. The other signings are Farhan Hussain from Jer Lane and Charlie Holt-Conway from Luddendenfoot. That pair will add to a rich pool of teenage talent at the Westercroft Lane club, which already includes the likes of Kyle Welsh, Jacob Slater and Louis Cockburn.
“ Australian amateur Campbell, who is in his early 20s, bowls medium pace and bats in the middle order. Long-serving first teamer Jason Smith will be the experienced hand in a youthful looking second team, who were promoted to Championship One last season”.
“Departures include Sri Lankan batsman Ajantha ‘AJ’ Weerapulli, who has retired after being hampered by a broken finger last season, but is continuing to use his considerable coaching talents to help the club’s youngsters.
"Opening bowler Zafar Khan, who has been a good servant, but found wickets and overs harder to come by in the last two seasons, has joined Rastrick CC, along with batsman Shakeel Mahmood, who scored a century in the seconds late last season.
“We have had a successful recruitment campaign this winter and the club are hoping the first team will be challenging for promotion honours this season."