DARCY Lever are going back to the future as returning stars are leading a revival.
A year after top bowler Dominic Gavin returned to Hacken Lane, Nick Fawcett joined him back at their old club this season.
Fawcett was installed as captain and led a more competitive side than in recent years.
While their batting has left a little to be desired, the bowling has been a key reason why they have spent the first half of the season in the mix at the top.
The league table reads that they are ninth going into today’s visit to reigning champions Atherton, but so tight is it that only eight points separate the seven teams below the top two.
After a good run, in which they won five out of seven league games, Darcy came crashing down to earth last weekend in a nine-wicket home defeat to Blackrod in which Fawcett’s men posted just 85.
And therin lies their problem, according to an otherwise satisfied Fawcett.
“We have not scored a great deal at all,” said the skipper.
“It took until a couple of weeks ago for our first player to score a 50 in a league match.
“It has very much been a half season for the bowlers.
“We have stifled teams well, which is something we have not done for a few years.
“The bowlers have matured a bit and are thinking about the game more.
“And it always helps if Dominic is opening the bowling at our ground.
“He had a slow start by his standards but has come good and got a five-for and a six-for. Alex Lee had a great start to the season with the ball, getting to double figures quickly.”
Fawcett’s return to his boyhood club has given Fawcett a new lease of life in the sport.
“I am thrilled to be back,” said the 31-year-old who came through at Darcy as a junior and has played in the first team from being 15 apart from the last two seasons he spent away at Urmston and Walkden.
“I am enjoying my cricket more than I have for a while.
“I always wanted to be captain, especially at my own club as I would call it where all the lads in the team have grown up together, apart from a couple.”
And he is determined to see the positivity spread towards an end result of top-tier cricket next season when the Association splits into two divisions.
“We have surprised ourselves,” he said.
“At the start of the season I thought if we could squeeze into the top half of the table by the end we would be quite happy.
“The aims are getting progressively higher, but it’s still the same that if we could finish in the top half I would snap your hand off.
“We have earned our position through bonus points. We have not got bowled out when we would have in the past.
“We took eight point off Flixton which was as good as winning in the first game off the season. We were 100-9 and finished on 135-9.
“We have done that a few times.
“We are club lads, that’s what we are and we know that. But the lads have come of age and pulled us through on a number of occasions.
“The number one priority is that top 10. It really is a must.
“Apart from the last two seasons we have been a top-four side. Now we need to get back to that. Top four might be out of our range but top six is a realistic aim.”
Saturday's Bolton Association fixtures
Adlington v Daisy Hill
Astley & Tyldesley v Worsley
Atherton v Darcy Lever
Blackrod v Edgworth
Bury v Walshaw
Elton v Flixton
Lostock v Winton
Standish v Little Hulton
Swinton Moorside v Golborne