LITTLE Hulton’s first team are at the ideal level for their development, according to former captain Darren Mullineux.

Currently third bottom in the Association, the men from the Old Vicarage have shown signs of promise during the first half of 2018, especially with the bat.

In two of three league games won, they have topped 300, while four of their players are in the top 11 leading run-scorers in the division.

Ammar Baig is the second leading run-scorer with 440, Tajamul Khan has 338, professional Mohammad Waqas 272 and captain Suleman Muhammed 254. All but Muhammed have scored hundreds.

Mullineux, now a self confessed “keen as mustard 50-year-old first-team helper outer”, admits: “When we put our full-strength 11 out we have a good, strong side.

“We have a good top five or six batting-wise.

“The bowling is not the best, but we can restrict teams on our day.

“Batting-wise, we have Ammar Baig, the pro, Tajamul Khan and Suleman Muhammad, the captain.

“All four can take games away from teams.

“They are good, entertaining players as well. You don't get a boring hundred out them.”

Although Mullineux accepts it is a positive that others aside from the pro are returning significant contributions, he says: “It can be a bit of a hindrance because you start getting rumours of top division teams wanting them and willing to spend a bit of cash.

“We’re very much a one paid player club – the professional.

“Luckily, this lot have said ‘don’t worry about us, we won’t be going anywhere. We want to finish the season with you’. But you never know what’s around the corner.

“We’re trying to get a team together that is competitive in our league.

“I don’t think, at our stage now, going up would be any good because we’d be just be getting beat every week. That’s when your players become disconsolate.

“I think we’ve found our level, and this is it.

“Having good cricket in this division is where we are.

“We have players capable of playing and doing well in the top division, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a big drop off after five or six. Then it’s a group of good second-team cricketers keen to test themselves in the firsts.

“Teams like Farnworth or Kearsley, when you get one out they keep on coming, and you think ‘Crikey’. It’s a big step up.

“I’m not putting a slight on anyone, but we’re not ready for that. That’s not to say we won’t be down the line, though.”

Elsewhere, the second team are bottom of the Premiership and without a win, while Mullineux believes the junior set-up needs significant work.

He added: “Usually when people talk about Little Hulton, it’s pre-conceived ideas and Chinese whispers. But it’s not that kind of a place, honestly.

“It’s not the best club in the world because we’re not run properly – we haven't got enough volunteers for that. But, in general, it’s a family club with a lot of really good stuff happening.

“In the first team, Suleman should take a lot of credit because he has used his contacts to bring some good Asian players with good characters.”