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Darryl Berry eyes final flourish in first year as Yorkshire skipper
Bingley St Ives member Darryl Berry is hoping a final-day twist will see him complete his first season as Yorkshire captain with the Northern Counties League title.
His team need a convincing victory at home to Cheshire at Lindrick and they must also hope that Northumberland can spring a surprise by beating leaders Lancashire at Southport & Ainslie.
But even if Saturday’s last round of fixtures goes to form and Yorkshire’s roses rivals pip them to the crown, Berry will still look back on his debut campaign at the helm with some satisfaction.
The 34-year-old, who is one of the youngest ever to skipper his county, said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. Hopefully I’ve learned things to keep the team improving for the future.
“It’s been more work than anticipated but I kind of like that as it keeps me on my toes.”
The former Yorkshire Amat-eur champion, who learned his golf at West Brad-ford, is delighted to have been given the prestigious role at the helm of one of the strongest counties in the country.
He said: “It’s a good challenge. Yorkshire have given me a lot.
“They invested money in me as a player in terms of coaching and this gives me a chance to give something back.”
Having been an established county player himself – and also played for his country and had a stint on the EuroPro Tour – Berry has good credentials for a post he hopes to carry on in for a good few years.
He said: “I’ve been around the Yorkshire set-up for a long time and I’ve played for England a couple of times, so I know what it’s all about.
“I’ve played in the county finals four times and won it twice and I think the players respect that.
“It’s kind of nice for them to have someone with experience whom they can ask advice from.”
Yorkshire boast a wealth of young talent but the cream has not always been available to Berry.
Hallamshire’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, now the world number one ranked amateur, has played just once for his county this season, while Joe Dean, Nick Marsh and Daniel Wasteney are all England A squad members.
But such is Yorkshire’s strength that they have still been able to mount a serious title challenge.
Will Whiteoak, who now plays for Shipley, has become an important part of the squad since starting the season with a stunning victory in the Welsh Open Youth Championships.
Berry, who like Whiteoak is a former T&A Golfer of the Year, said: “Will has come on in leaps and bounds and has shown a fantastic attitude.
“Like a lot of young kids, he was a bit of a wild child but I took him aside and said to him, ‘just let your golf clubs do the talking’ and that’s what he’s done.
“He’s battled back twice from two or three down and he never gives in. He just keeps going.”
Berry believes Whiteoak can emulate some of his team-mates and gain national selection.
“He has been under-rated but he will be getting looked at by England after his Welsh win,” said the skipper.
A major target for Berry next season is to get Yorkshire back into the County Championship finals – an event they won eight times from 1997 to 2007.
They were pipped by Lancashire in qualifying this year at Manchester.
But the captain is still hoping to get one over their rivals in the current campaign by winning the Northern Counties League title this weekend. “It could still happen,” said Berry.
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