New Farnley's learning curve remains steep

Richard Whitehurst gets into a tangle batting for Cleckheaton against New Farnley last Saturday

Richard Whitehurst gets into a tangle batting for Cleckheaton against New Farnley last Saturday Buy this photo

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Sports Reporter

It isn’t just international cricketers who are seemingly always up for a gamble.

Take New Farnley for example, whose members were invited to guess, at the start of the season, where their first and second teams would finish in the JCT600 Bradford League.

Their chairman John Baldwin confessed with a laugh: “I put down first and first!”

There is nothing wrong with the ambition of the Leeds club but the reality could be quite different.

New Farnley, who have only won one of their first five matches, are currently fourth from bottom with 39 points.

However, the 26 bonus points they have accrued has helped to keep them above Yeadon (20) and Pudsey Congs (24), who haven’t won any matches, and East Bierley (33), who have also won one.

Ahead of the bank holiday double weekend, Baldwin admitted: “We had ambitions to join the Bradford League as soon as we came into the Central Yorkshire League in 1995, and have both been made very welcome and have learnt much from the Bradford League’s management board, and particularly president Keith Moss and development officer Alan Birkinshaw.

“The aim this season is to finish in the top half of the table but we are digesting things all the time.

“The quality of the bowling attacks we have faced, for example. They are on the ball from the off and don’t give you any bad balls.

“Another thing is that our middle order hasn’t fired, so we are looking at changing our batting order as we aren’t using up our overs, and we also need to see off the new ball better.”

Not only did New Farnley’s first team gain promotion in their debut season, but their second team did as well.

They currently lead their table, so maybe Baldwin’s prediction of first place is not so fanciful for them.

He said: “We have some lads in the second team who are just about ready for first-team cricket, such as spinner Nat Skirrow.”

If he was to be promoted, the teenager would most likely be competing with skipper Mark Lawson, fellow former county player Ian Fisher and Dave McCallum for the spin roles.

McCallum opened the bowling for them last Saturday in their 41-run defeat at defending champions Cleckheaton, and very successfully at that.

He took 3-28 from his 15 overs, dismissing the top three of Andy Gorrod, Tim Jackson and John Wood, and Baldwin has noticed that other clubs are starting their attacks with spin as the influence of Twenty20 cricket grows.

As if to emphasise the competitive nature of life in the Bradford League’s top flight, New Farnley meet the current top three over the next three weekends.

They host second-placed Woodlands on Saturday, visit third-placed Pudsey St Lawrence next Saturday and travel to leaders Farsley on Saturday, June 7.

That could put more importance on the Lawns Lane club’s home match against bottom club Yeadon on Mon-day.

Match of the day on Saturday is St Lawrence’s visit to Farsley, while on Monday the Red Laners are at Woodlands.

Rarely can Monday’s Pudsey derby at the Britannia Ground have featured sides with such a difference in positions with Congs second from bottom.

The Division Two highlight is second-placed Undercliffe’s trip to third-placed Baildon on Monday.

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