Promoted Morley set sights on ‘long game’

Matt Baxter of Morley.

Matt Baxter of Morley.

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SKIPPER Matt Baxter believes continuity can yield its rewards for Morley Cricket Club in 2016.

The Scatcherd Lane men have kept their close-reason recruitment work to a minimum – with the vast bulk of the side who helped instigate a return to the top flight last season remaining in their line-up.

The mainstays of last year were in the side who kicked off the new ECB Bradford Premier League season with victory over East Bierley and they will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow, albeit in the tough arena of Moorend to face Cleckheaton.

Baxter (52) and young opener James McNichol (54) did the business with the bat for Morley last weekend, while the economical Kashif Naveed, another of last season’s star runs pitched in with a typically miserly 4-30 – with Morley hoping for more of the same at Cleck.

On his hopes for the side, Baxter said: “We obviously want to establish ourselves at this level over a sustained period and be part of the new Premier League set-up, moving forward.

“But our team has been built over the past five or six years and has not changed a great deal this year.

“I do think that can help us definitely with our game plan and the lads all know their roles.

“The younger players who were also part of the team who came good have also had another year in the division below to get a bit more confidence and experience.

“We are just looking to establish ourselves this year and we will see how we go.

“We did well last week against Bierley. They have got a lot of experienced players at this level, so it was a really good start and important to get off with a win.”

On tomorrow’s task against Cleck, licking their wounds after relinquishing their title last year to Pudsey St Lawrence as they were thwarted in their quest for a hat-trick of league wins, Baxter added: “They are a class side and have recruited well, even though it is difficult to lose people like Iain Wardlaw.

“But they will be strong on Saturday. But we are looking forward to the challenge.”

One significant newcomer who has arrived at Morley is all-rounder Henry Rush, who has moved to the area from Lincolnshire, and he made an immediate impact with the ball against Bierley, taking a magic 4-9 to rip through the visitors’ tail as the hosts won by 51 runs.

Baxter said: “Henry looks a good cricketer.

“Obviously, he did damage with the ball last week, but he is also batting number three for us.

“He looks a controlled player who will try and build an innings for us, which should complement our team nicely.”

Meanwhile, Morley have been handed a home tie with Great Preston or Yeadon following the draw for the second round of the Heavy Woollen Cup.

Elsewhere, holders Woodlands will visit New Farnley or Shepley, while another intriguing looking tie sees Methley welcome Huddersfield Leaguers Hoylandswaine, beaten finalists last year, or Shelley.

Ossett host Treeton, while Birstall entertain Moorlands.

Scholes make the long trip to Whitley Hall, while Hopton Mills are at home to Townville.

Hanging Heaton, who visit Delph and Dobcross in round one, have been handed a home tie with Wrenthorpe if they progress. Ties scheduled to be played on May 8.

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A MIX of derbies and intriguing encounters dominate the ECB Bradford Premier League tapestry tomorrow – none more so than at Albert Terrace.

Woodlands, with designs upon clinching silverware under the command of new captain Tim Jackson, welcome another side expected to be among the movers and shakers in Hanging Heaton.

The Tewits have also been busy this off-season, bringing in the likes of opening bowler Tom Chippendale from Ossett and top-order batsman Richard Foster from Methley, and Woodlands secretary Brian Pearson expects them to be a force this year: “We play Hanging Heaton on our new square, which played very well for the second team last Saturday. Hanging Heaton have not previously been able to show the consistency, thus far.

“But I think they have the side now that could well produce that. They have recruited well, as there’s obviously Cleckheaton and New Farnley and the two Pudseys.

“I say every year it will be a good competition and I couldn’t call it. Pudsey St Lawrence will obviously be there or thereabouts and it will be the same clubs competing, while the clubs at the bottom are all capable of beating somebody on their day.

“I don’t think there are any easy games, which might not have been the case five or six years ago, and a lot of the sides look very balanced. But my watchword is always consistency.”

Elsewhere, champions Pudsey St Lawrence visit Farsley and Pudsey Congs host New Farnley, while another clash of near-neighbours sees Scholes visit Lightcliffe. East Bierley welcome Bradford and Bingley.

Activity in Championship A sees Batley host Ossett, Hunslet Nelson entertain Undercliffe and Liversedge visit Keighley. Yeadon host Idle.

In Championship B, Methley welcome Hopton Mills and Carlton are at home to Townville. Wrenthorpe and Hartshead Moor head to Bankfoot and Bowling Old Lane respectively and Gomersal host Altofts. Spen Victoria play host to Brighouse.

In the preliminary round of the Priestley Cup takes place on Sunday, with Ossett travlling to Wrenthorpe and Batley welcoming Hopton Mills.

Hunslet Nelson entertain Brighouse.

Hartshead's Iain Wardlaw. PIC: Steve Riding

Bradford League: Wardlaw is setting the pace again at Hartshead