Opportunity knocks for Leyland CC's young stars this season
Leyland skipper David Makinson admits his team will be an unknown quantity in the early weeks of the new cricket season.
The men from Fox Lane are often viewed as the benchmark for clubs looking to win the Northern League Division One title.
In the past 10 seasons – not counting last summer when a full campaign was unable to be completed due to the Covid-19 pandemic – Leyland have won the title four times.
Indeed, they are in effect the reigning champions having finished on top of the pile in 2019.
In every other year over the past decade, they have generally been in the mix at the top of the table come the end of the season.
That success has been built via a strong group of amateur players, but Makinson revealed that there has been a change over the winter with many of the club’s players moving to pastures new.
Some have moved away while others have taken on paid positions at other clubs.
And in a further blow on the eve of the new season, the arrival of the club’s South African professional Jean du Plessis has been delayed due to a paperwork issue and he will not be available this weekend.
What it all means is that Makinson will likely be blooding a number of players from the club’s youth set-up for tomorrow’s visit of Garstang and beyond.
“The squad is looking a bit thin,” said Makinson, who revealed that the club will not be able to employ a sub-professional this weekend.
“We have lost Henry Thompson – he actually wasn’t going to play last year because he had moved to Harrogate.
“Alex Williams our wicketkeeper is living away in Leeds.
“Josh Van Der Linde has joined the RAF and Ross Bretherton has gone to be the professional at Cherry Tree in the Ribblesdale League.
“Nathan McDonnell is now one of the paid players at Newton-le-Willows in the Liverpool Competition. So we have lost some pretty big players there.
“Then we have the pro situation – he’s not going to be here in time so it’s not an ideal way to start the season. However, we have got some good young players and they are going to be given an opportunity.
“It’s probably going to be a bit earlier than they thought but it’s up to them now.
“We have got Joe Shackleton, who played a few games last year in the first team.
“He’ll be playing on Saturday – he’s a seam, quick bowler. Then there’s Ben Weaver who will be making his first-team debut – he’s a bowling all-rounder.
“The wicketkeeper will be Joe Wallwork-Woods – he has played one or two games in the first team but not as a keeper.
“There is still the core group of players like myself, my son Andrew and Karl Cross, James Rounding and Kurtis Watson to help them through.
“Over the past 10 years, we have won the league four times and I think we have only finished outside of the top four once.
“We have been by far the most consistent team over that period and this year will be slightly different.
“But we have still got a lot of good players who still should be getting better and reaching their peaks – it would be nice to think that they could all have a purple season.”
This weekend pits the 2019 champions against the team who finished runners-up that year – Garstang.
“They are a very good side,” said Makinson. “Since coming into the league from the Palace Shield, they have added to their squad and made themselves stronger.
“They had a very good professional in Punit Bisht the last time we played a full season and they pushed us all the way.
“They have been a very good addition to the Northern League.”
Support us and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.