Gary Wainwright is 40 on Saturday, and a nice birthday present would be a victory for his current club, Morley, at home to one of his old clubs, Woodlands.
“Some of the bigger clubs might think that is fanciful,” said the experienced batsman, “but we are not going into the game thinking we are going to lose.
“We are going into the match thinking that we are going to win.”
This confidence is not only borne out of Morley being fourth in the JCT600 Bradford League Division One table, just eight points behind their third-placed opponents.
It is also a consequence of their form in the second half of last season.
Morley looked likely to go down when they were bottom of the table as late as June 29, only for a sequence of six victories in seven matches to haul them into lower mid-table and make them virtually safe from the drop.
Wainwright knows what part psychology played in that revival.
He said: “I had a 25-minute chat with our players in the dressing room at one of the matches and said to them ‘What are your happiest memories on a cricket field?’
“They told me what they were and I said ‘Go out there and perform like that then’.
“It seemed to do the trick. Apart from David Paynter, who has joined Hanging Heaton, and our overseas player Kashif Naveed, we are all playing for bits and bobs and the team spirit is great.
“That helped us as when you are a losing side, you tend to get edged out in close matches, but our team bonding pulled us through last season and we have continued in exactly the same way this season.”
Wainwright’s optimism is also boosted by what happened when Morley were at Woodlands on August 17 last season – one of the few rain-hit Saturdays.
The Albert Terrace club were dismissed for 100 as Morley’s opening bowlers Matthew Dowse (4-25) and Nathan Bromby (3-43) used the helpful pitch conditions well.
“We had them on the ropes,” remembered Wainwright.
This season, Naved Siddique, Morley’s second-team wicketkeeper, proved a hero with an unbeaten 53 in the two-wicket victory at newly-promoted New Farnley on the opening day of the season.
Then Matthew West – Morley’s only signing of note over the winter – made 76 in the 76-run victory over Pudsey Congs, and Morley’s only defeat came last weekend at early leaders Farsley, despite having them 12-3.
As for where Morley might finish the campaign, Wainwright said: “Our skipper, Matthew Baxter, would probaly say top ten, or even top five or top six, but if we can finish in the top half of the table, we will have had a fantastic season.”
Farsley are at home to reviving East Bierley on Saturday, while second-placed Pudsey St Lawrence are at fifth-placed Bradford & Bingley, who, like Woodlands and Morley, have won two out of three.
Pudsey Congs (home to new Farnley) and Yeadon (at Lightcliffe) are both hoping to break their ducks.
There is little doubt as to the match of the day in Division Two as Hartshead Moor entertain Keighley in a battle of teams who have won three out of three.
Second-placed Undercliffe – the other ‘100 per centers’ – are at fourth-placed Idle.