ANTHONY AXFORD BOLTON ASSOCIATION: Standish captain Sam Heeley happy with early schedule
SAM Heeley has no complaints about his Standish side being one of four Bolton Association teams who have to play an extra game in the Cross Cup this season.
Due to the league increasing its numbers from 14 to 18 clubs there has to be a preliminary round in the oldest continually played cricket cup competition in the country.
It means the Cross Cup action gets started much earlier in the season than usual, with only two league programmes having been played before tomorrow’s two cup matches.
Darcy Lever host Standish while new club Winton get their first taste of the old knockout competition when they visit Astley and Tyldesley.
While the other 14 teams take the day off, captain Heeley is pleased to get out on the field.
“We are happy to have an extra game at this stage of the season,” he said.
“Teams can be a bit rusty and you want to play as many games as you can at the start to get into the season.”
Standish kicked off the season last week with a two-wicket defeat at Winton and are looking to promote youth this season.
There has been little player movement in the winter at Green Lane with no players coming in and Sam Callow, Usman Khushmood and Arshad Khan all leaving.
“We kept hold of Dave Bowden who was our pro last year and is playing as an amateur this year,” he said.
“We did try to bring someone in but it didn’t work out.
“But it gives us a chance to bring in young players which is good for the club in the long term.
“We’ve got some good ones like Chris Gunn and Jack Heaton who are both 18 and we’ll be having a good look at them and our opening batsman Nick Smith, who is 17 but who played all last year in the first team.
“The great thing about this club is that every single one of our players are Standish lads. All of them came up from the juniors.”
With the league splitting into three groups of six at the end of the season after which it will become two divisions for next season, Heeley is looking for his side to at least come in the middle group and then battle for a place in the top division.
“We are looking for a mid-table finish this year and hopefully for a run in the cup,” he said.
“We won it in 2007 in only my third first-team game when I was 16. The only decent run we’ve had since then was about four years ago when we reached the semis.”