THE chance to re-write the record books will keep Greenmount old stager Mark Stewart in the sport for at least another three years, says club chairman David Willets.
Stewart stepped down as captain this season, handing over to opening batsman Andy Kerr after five successful campaigns in the role.
But another two wickets in the Brandlesholme Road club’s opening-day defeat at home to Horwich took the bowler’s career tally to 1,432, just 129 behind Frank Rushton’s all-time Bolton League record.
“He is very close now,” said Willetts. “If he carries on playing for another two or three years I think he will easily make it.
“Mark is a fierce competitor, so I have no doubt it will be in the back of his mind.
“That will to win is what made him such a good captain.”
Stewart added 42 wickets to his total last season but admitted that a long-time back problem made it increasingly more difficult to commit to turning out in every single game.
“I just felt it was the right time to take a step back,” said the 46-year-old.
“I have only got another couple of seasons left in me and so I knew I would have to let someone else have a go sooner or later.
“I have been struggling with my back, which probably made up my mind for me in the end.
“But I have played and captained some fantastic players and certainly feel like I am handing the side over to Andy in good shape.”
Stewart led Greenmount to an unprecedented treble in 2011, which included a first ever Lancashire KO title and first league championship crown since 1988, as well as the Hamer Cup.
It was only the second time the feat had been achieved in Bolton League history, after Walkden set the benchmark.
In total, Stewart took the side to four Hamer Cup finals since taking over the captaincy in 2008, winning it in 2011 and finishing runners-up to Walkden and Egerton in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Willets has backed Kerr, Stewart and co to bounce straight back at Kearlsey tomorrow following their 33-run opening day loss.
Last season’s fourth-placed side have made some telling additions, including Akbar Ur-Rehman as pro, who took four wickets on his debut, and Alex Rodzoch from Farnworth, who hit 47 against Horwich.
“Andy has a lot to live up to replacing Mark as captain, but we have made some good additions over the summer and I think we have assembled another very competitive squad,” added Willets.