Saints keep focus for Abu Dhabi adventure

Pudsey St Lawrence captain James Smith.
Pudsey St Lawrence captain James Smith.
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PUDSEY ST LAWRENCE captain James Smith insists that the club’s ground-breaking trip to Abu Dhabi is no jolly up.

The Bradford League champions do battle with Yorkshire Premier League South winners Wakefield Thornes in the Yorkshire Premier League final at the Zayed Stadium in a day-night affair on October 27 – with players heading out to the Gulf this weekend.

It promises to be the cricketing experience of a lifetime for both sides, with the game and whole occasion attracting the attention of everyone connected with both clubs, with West Indies playing Pakistan at the stadium prior to St Lawrence’s and Thornes’ own blue-riband appointment.

But for Saints skipper Smith, with his captain’s hat firmly on, it about business – and not just sun, sea and more sun.

Smith, whose side qualified for the final with a last-four win over Great Ayton at Headingley in September, said: “It is brilliant for the club and did not get real until last Friday when I got my travel insurance.

“It is great for the club and the spectators who are going and we have got around 20 people who are going and a nice little following.

“A lot of the people who are travelling out there are family members of the pllayers and the players are saying what is flexible on the itinerary. It is about actually reminding the players that we are actually there to play some cricket and it has been quite funny!

“We have earned this and there is no point going out there and messing about.

“We have to embrace it and take it for what it is – hopefully being crowned as the best Premier League team in Yorkshire.”

On the itinerary, he added: “We fly on Saturday and then practice on the Sunday and Monday and we play a warm-up on the Tuesday with a day’s rest on Wednesday unwinding before the big day on Thursday.

“And looking at the pitch, it looks absolutely sensational.

“It is an exciting time, playing under the lights overseas with a pink ball. It will be amazing.

“While some want to appreciate the culture, we are there to play a game of cricket and win on Thursday and get other things out of their heads, although we will stick to the itinerary as close as possible.”

St Lawrence face a Thornes side who have themselves enjoyed an outstanding campaign.

The Wakefield outfit beat Yorkshire Premier League North winners Harrogate in their semi-final at Scarborough.

Smith has been impressed by their feats, and says St Lawrence will be treating them with plenty of respect.

He added: “They’re obviously a decent team who won their league pretty convincingly.

“As with every opposition, we must give them the respect that they deserve. We know Faisal Irfan from his days with Cleckheaton and Pudsey, and Mahmood Rasool played at Lightcliffe, and they are their two opening bowlers.

“And Chris Marsden is quite familiar with a few of their team as he is from Wakefield way.”

He added: “We know enough about them.

“They are a good team and we have got to perform.”