DEANE and Derby plan to continue moving up the league and shed their tag of being a predominantly Asian club.

After winning promotion in 2017 the Bolton club's first team had a promising campaign in the Greater Manchester Cricket League Division Two B during the summer when they finished fifth.

But treasurer Maaz Atcha and the rest of the club's hierarchy have ambitions way beyond their current league standing.

Atcha, who is also the club’s second-team captain, is a former Canada under-19s international who has been involved with them for the last decade and a half.

On the field, he is delighted with the progression of a host of the club’s youngsters and is confident there is more to come.

Off it, Atcha, president Abdul Raoof Raja and secretary Ismail Kala are working hard to improve facilities on the back of significant financial support from sponsors and Bolton Council.

“I don’t want this club to just be a predominantly Asian club. I want it to be a mixture,” said Atcha, who played age-group international cricket in the early eighties.

“The only way we’ll get that is by people seeing progression on and off the field.

“The council has been brilliant. They’ve given us funding to do up the ground.

“We’re also very grateful for the help of our sponsors, AL-Khair Foundation, Anwar Patel and Yusuf Davda.

“We have knocked on doors in and around the local area, and we’re promoting in schools – encouraging kids to come and play, no matter their creed, colour or race.

“We’d also like to get females involved.

“As we’re in a deprived area, we say ‘look, don’t worry about your fees, we’ll sort that’."

Last season they won 11 of their 22 games in the league, including at home to South West Manchester on the last day of the season, having improved following a testing start.

“The first team has gelled really nicely,” said Atcha, who is particularly delighted with the progression of their juniors.

Two of those, all-rounders Umar Farook Patel and Zaid Patel, have enjoyed impressive first-team campaigns.

The former is a 15-year-old representing Bolton District, while the latter claimed 42 wickets and finished as the fifth leading wicket-taker in Division Two B.

“It was a brave move by Imtiaz Hussain, our captain, to take them both on, and it has paid dividends,” said Atcha.

“On the back of that, he has asked for more kids to come up.

“If juniors don’t succeed, there is no pressure.

“But it’s about them recognising there is a way to use their talent and improve teamwork and communication skills.

“I’ve been involved here for about 14 years, and what I’ve noticed is that we tend to bring through the kids, who then move into the Bolton League.

“We also have a couple who have moved to the Liverpool Competition and to Stoke. They get paid well, and that is understandable.

“But when we lose kids who don’t get paid, that’s annoying.

“What we’ve had to do is promote the kids, and then they’ll hopefully want to stay with us. That’s the whole idea.

“We have an eight-year-old playing in the under-13s, and another who reached the final 25 of a Lancashire under-10s trial.

“Other kids then look and say ‘hey, there is a chance’.

“If we can produce one Flintoff or Joe Root or even a regular county cricketer with Lancashire, that would give everybody hope and promote our cricket positively."