CLECKHEATON captain, James Stansfield has admitted that success won’t come easy for his youthful side, as they come to terms with life in the Bradford Premier League (Premier Division).

The West Yorkshire outfit sealed promotion back to the foremost cricket competition in Bradford  after a dominant campaign in Division One last time out, in which they finished 1st.

However, the departures of several key and experienced players including Mally Nicholson and Richard Pyrah has meant that Cleck have had to adopt a more youthful approach this season.

For example, 16-year-old Bradley Sylvester has been tasked with opening the bowling for Stansfield’s side, though he’s done a fine job so far, claiming five wickets in the club’s latest defeat at Undercliffe.

Cleckheaton’s start, four league losses, might not be pleasing on the eye to most people, but their captain believes that these early season experiences will stand them in good stead for the future.

Stansfield, who took over from Pyrah as captain ahead of this season, said: “I feel like we are slowly improving week by week.

“We’ve got a lot of young and inexperienced players, particularly for the level of league we are in, so it’s definitely not an overnight project.

“We could be looking at a couple of years before we properly see things starting to flourish.”

He added: “Barring myself, all the bowlers are 22 or under, so it’s a very young group we’ve got.

“The club have set out the plan and I’m happy to work with it.

“It’s a tough league for these lads to be playing in, but week by week, they will continue to improve with the more experience they get, and they’ll be better players for it.

“With the three or four experienced players we’ve got, it’s up to us to do the hard graft so that we can help to push these young players on.

“We wouldn’t be still playing if we didn’t enjoy it, so we’re happy to take on the challenge.”

Discussing the impact of Nicholson’s and Pyrah’s exits from the club, Stansfield said: “They’re big losses for the club, of course.

“It’s valuable experience that we will no longer have, but for personal reasons, they needed to play closer to home.

“Both Mally and Richard were big characters in the dressing room, and they knew their way around this league having played in and around these divisions for years.

“Getting promoted to the Premier Division, perhaps came a season too soon with the number of young players we’ve got, and with the experienced members of the squad leaving, but we’re ready to do our best to achieve safety with this group.”

Cleckheaton host Methley today (12:00 pm) and will be searching for their first league victory of the season.

Looking ahead to the contest, Stansfield said: “It will be another tough fixture for the team, as most are in the Premier Division.

“However, we feel like we are continuously improving and not far off that first victory.

“Getting it this weekend would be massive for the confidence within the group, and it would give the younger lads that winning feeling, which would be a huge psychological boost for a lot of them.”