So, another season slips away into the September stillness leaving the groundsman to weave their lonely magic returning the ground to the pristine condition that makes it the envy of the LCL if not the county.

It has been a strange season but in general the comfortable mid table finish will leave the hardcore loyal supporters with a sense of benign relief if not satisfaction. The all too real mid-season flirtation with the relegation places and the upheavals that followed were threatening to cause severe palpitations among some but the team rallied despite an availability crisis that at times was chaotic – often it was all hands to the pump and a question not of who to pick but who was healthy. You can only pick what you have available so any criticism of selection decisions would be grossly unfair. Among the home-grown players Brad Fielding had a good season, Owen Collinge demonstrated what a fine all-round prospect he is and as a bit of an outlier Jack Thormond came in has showed great resolve. But that having been said the shortcomings in the first team squad were so obvious as not to require any repetition here.

The 2022 season in Division 1 is not going to be any easier than this one with two upwardly mobile promotees offering tense derbies. Welcome back to our dear old friends from Bentgate and hello to our new neighbours at Greenmount – well done to both. It is common ground then that the squad needs to be strengthened. Much hope is being pinned on the return of the odd prodigal son or two – Amen to that! However, if the mixed metaphors can be excused it would be prudent not to count those chickens until the fatted calf is seen being trotted around Acrebottom! In the meantime, and much closer to home the concentration will be on doing whatever is necessary to staunch losses of existing squad members and finding a pro who can come somewhere close to filling Daryn’s shoes – not easy. He was a tremendous servant to the club and indeed the whole LCL. 

It is not though just a question of personnel. The rumours of dressing room disquiet were too persistent and from a wide range of sources to be dismissed by a breezy denial and anecdotal evidence suggests that the commitment to and intensity of training and practice was not what it has been in the past. A reset following a root and branch review of where the club is with its cricket might not be remiss

For all the trials and tribulations of our first team it is the second team who had the very rough end of the stick. Forced to pick virtually the whole 3rd team from July onwards, and a very young and inexperienced one at that, it had a very torrid time of it. Luckily the points gained in the first half of the season avoided the trauma of relegation. Out of adversity came the opportunity for some of our younger cricketers to perform outside their comfort zone at a much earlier stage than might otherwise have been the case and allow an assessment to be made of those who offer a real prospect of becoming first team cricketers in the fullness of time. The concentration must be on their development together with that of other bright prospects even further down the age range who need to be progressed to older age groups.

The picture is not all gloomy but this season should be a wakeup call that there is much to be done.

Paul Cropper