Author: Reg Nelson
The second club featured in the Club in Winter series is Division Two outfit Northowram Fields who have made significant changes for the coming 2020 season.
Their first team were perilously close to relegation last season but showed great character in winning their last three league matches to preserve their status.
Skipper John Lister, pictured, acknowledges the struggles from 2019. He said: “Last season was a huge disappointment for us. We recruited quite well with Humayan Shahzad, Dean Crossley and Sam Gardner signing on, but it just didn't click.
"Whilst our bowlers were exceptional all season, our senior batters didn't step up and support the youngsters we have in the side. It is fair to say that the batting was ultimately the issue. However, we did manage to avoid relegation after at one stage being favourites for the drop. Three wins in our final three games saved us."
Lister, who has returned as captainafter a year off, talks about the changes, “This season there have been a few changes at the club.
“Dru Patel. who was last year’s captain, has moved on to join Scholes, Farhan Hussain, a promising young leg spinner has returned to his first club Jer lane and Jacob Slator has signed at Pudsey Congs. The club would like to wish them all the best.
“We have managed to again recruit really well, securing the signing of Richard Gould, above, who needs no introduction to Bradford Premier League cricket.
“Richard has got his sights firmly set on being the all-time leading Bradford League run scorer. I’m sure he will add important runs and much-needed experience at the top of the order. We have also signed exciting young bowler Max Gardner from Lightcliffe (brother of Sam), who will add further pace to our already strong attack.
“Finally, we have signed Michael Brooke from Lightcliffe who is an experienced top order batter. Overall, we are happy with our recruitment and there may be more in the pipeline.
"We are delighted to retain the services of our bowling attack from last year and hope that this year our batters can step up and help push for promotion which is certainly the aim."
Lister also believes the second team will continue to build on the progress made in 2019 and challenge for promotion.
He said: “The second team also have eyes on challenging for promotion. They had an excellent first season in the division with some young players coming to the fore. I’m sure there will be several players pushing for first team cricket next season.
“Our junior system is something we are really proud of and many people at the club spend a lot of time developing our junior talent. It’s something we will continue to hopefully produce young players for senior cricket.
“The club are looking forward to the season ahead and we hope both sides can push for promotion in their respective leagues.”
Lister knows the importance of ground developments. “There are a couple of exciting developments at the club that are in early stages," he said.
"We are looking at improving our facilities with some practice nets and looking at developing our scoreboard.
“Last year we installed fixed sliding sightscreens on one end of the field, and over this winter, we had the other side fitted with the same style sightscreens. This continues our improvement to our ground/facilities – something that our committee regularly discuss”.
Looking ahead Lister added: “The club start pre-season nets at Woodlands on Monday and these will run every Monday. If anyone is interested in netting please feel free to come along”.
“We also have some exciting social events in the calendar- we have a "promise auction" on Friday, February 7 at the club from 7pm and also our annual golf day booked at Cleckheaton Golf Club on Friday, April 10.
“If anyone would like to participate in the golf day please contact John Lister (07769186061). It’s always an excellent day and open to any clubs/players."
Pictures: Ray Spencer