WHEN IT comes to Cleckheaton’s ECB Bradford Premier Division season so far, spokesperson Kevin Mitchell pulls no punches.
His verdict? That the Moorenders, top-flight champions in 2013 and 2014, are simply not the team they were.
The statistics bare that out with Cleck residing in an ignominious sixth spot after three league defeats in a row – the latest coming in an emphatic 159-run defeat to leaders Pudsey St Lawrence.
As it stands, John Wood’s side – who visit Pudsey Congs tomorrow – are 54 points behind St Lawrence and Mitchell believes that the title is no longer up for discussion.
He said: “We are not the team we were, there’s no getting away from it.
“And that is not being disparaging towards the new guys because so far, they have done their best.
“But for whatever reason – and we can’t put our finger on it – we are not playing to our potential.
“Dave Worrall (chairman) in his own words, says that the players must now attempt to win every single game they play in and then it’s a case of seeing where we end up.
“It’s as simple as that as we have left ourselves with too much to do to win the title and that is not bravado, it’s fact.
“Hopefully, we can win the Priestley Cup and finish as high as we can.
“It is never easy trying to replace players who leave, while several key players are suffering a loss of form.
“But everyone is aware of the situation and I am sure John Wood and Dave will be trying to rectify it.”
Tomorrow’s trip to Congs is the first leg of a crunch weekend for Cleck, who visit Woodlands in their rescheduled Priestley Cup second-round tie on Sunday after the weather curtailed events last weekend.
Cleck are boosted by the availability of Andy Gorrod and Ian Nicholson for the tie and while on paper, the cup date seems to take pre-eminence of tomorrow’s league fixture, Mitchell says that both games assume major importance.
He added: “In terms of keeping our season alive, we need to beat Congs as psychologically, a run of three successive defeats sends out warning signals if you lose a fourth game.
“The lads have to realise how important the game is – how important both games are.”
One redeeming feature of a disappointing season so far has been the form of close-season arrival Chris Holliday, who has helped mitigate for the loss of opener Tim Jackson to Woodlands.
Holliday has made some timely contributions, most notably a majestic 151 not out in a 79-run success over Woodlands on May 28, Cleck’s best league performance of the season thus far.
Mitchell said: “Chris Holliday has done exceptionally well and has been the one major plus this season.
“He’s a stylish batsman who gets on with things and is ultra confident and likes to play on the front foot.
“He has great nous and intelligence and is a fantastic batsman – he really is.
“He has done tremendously well.”