Cricket Committee Update by Andy Dalby

As the first snow of the winter falls it felt appropriate in giving you an update of what’s been happening at Acre Bottom over the autumnal months. 

Ever since the sun set on the 2021 season, the cricket committee’s attention was focused (in the short term) to the 2022 season and rectifying some ‘lessons learned,‘ from the season that was.

On a personal level, I think it’s fair to say that it was an indifferent season, one that at times was challenging for all concerned and best summarised as a season of two halves with the first eleven struggling in the first half of the season before finishing the season well with some great results against some excellent teams. 

In comparison the seconds started well however fell drastically off the pace in the second half of the season, avoiding relegation thanks to the number of points accumulated in the first ten games. 

In the main, this can be put down to the limited availability of a number of ‘seasoned campaigners’ for various reasons including illness, injuries and the holiday season being in full swing.

It is worth mentioning that (on a personal level) I was extremely proud of all the players who wore the green and gold in 2021. We can easily lose sight of the fact we lost a number of quality players in the winter months including a certain club legend – Jon Fielding (albeit I did twist his arm to play a handful of games).

With Kieren Grimshaw leading the team admirably in the second half of the season it was an easy decision for the committee to offer ‘Grimmy’ the armband for 2022. 

This certainly enabled the committee to plan ahead together.

Grimmy commented:

“A bitterly cold winter weekend is a great time to look forward to the 2022 season. Apart from a bit of sunshine, what am I looking forward to most about the new season as captain is; the challenge of leading a young energetic team in what is a very competitive league; meeting and playing alongside our new professional; pushing for a top four finish and maybe winning something along the way; whilst continuing to improve my own game throughout the season.”

We were conscious (like a number of other clubs) that we needed to swell the ‘player pool’ that we had in our ranks as a healthy playing squad offers both stability and competition for places.

A perfect example of this was the fact that the second eleven used five captains in 2021, this was far from ideal.

Therefore it was imperative that we appointed an experienced captain who knew the club and we could rely on him playing most of the games. There was only one name for this and we are pleased to announce the returning Mark Dentith as captain. 

Mark commented on his appointment:

“After eight seasons at Woodbank, it is great to be back playing such a key role at the club. I am looking forward to rekindling the role I did last in 2007 when we lost just one game in the whole season and completed the infamous ‘double-double’ winning the league and cup double in back-to-back seasons.

In many ways, being the second team captain can be extremely rewarding but can also present some of the greatest challenges like disgruntled ex-first team players, disgruntled third teamers, last-minute cry-offs etc. Thankfully, we have Chris Wood as team manager who understands this as much as anyone, being a successful second team captain in his own right. ‘Woodsy’ will take some of this pain away from me and his input will be invaluable throughout the season. It will also be great to be working alongside Nick Round, who will serve as the vice-captain, and I am sure this extra responsibility will be great for his development.

There is no doubt that the second eleven league is much more competitive than it was previously, but last season’s mid-table is not where we want to be. The second team is critical to the club in terms of the depth of the player pool for the first team, and thankfully Dalbs has been busy filling some of the gaps in the squad. Therefore, next year we will have a much more solid team, and we should be able to select several players with first-team experience, and who are successful at this level. As a spectator, the latter part of last season was tough to watch, and whilst not a single player let anyone down, it was far from an ideal situation the youngsters found themselves in.

On the field, Woodsy, Nick and I need to pull the players together and make them believe they can compete consistently week in week out, as we certainly cannot hide behind a lack of ability. We need to implement a system that gets the most out of us all, and which allows the players to make important contributions. A critical component for me will be our fielding, and I want us to be one of the best, if not the best fielding team in our league.

I think we must be realistic, next season will be work in progress, there are new players to integrate, new methods to introduce and some ‘staffing’ changes. There is also one or two teams a little further on than we currently are. I think progress will be the key theme for us and creating a consistent team. Either way, I think we are in for an exciting summer and with a bit of luck, we will not be too far away come September.”

For your info – we will be announcing a third eleven captain in due course. 

Next on the list and the signing that everyone wants to learn the name of is the professional. 

In quite bizarre circumstances the signing of Sen (Muthusamy) was completed within a couple of hours of him first being mentioned. 

Having sought counsel from Grimmy (captain), Jon Fielding (vice chairman) and Rob Read (new first team manager) it just seemed to feel right that I contacted Sen. 

It is certainly worth mentioning that Sen’s figures in 2018 were very good, he knows the club well and it became apparent that there was very much a sense of unfinished business at Acre Bottom. 

Let’s hope the stars align and we see Sen support a young exciting team in 2022. 

We have also made a number of other acquisitions to swell the playing ranks, these include: 

  • Jake Walker (Ashon-on-Mersey CC)
  • Ali Abbas (Brooksbottom CC)
  • Ghulam Abbas (Brooksbottom CC)
  • Seb Schofield (Egerton CC)

Jason Pyke will also have served his twelve month residential probation by the start of May. 

All in all, as a collective, we feel it has been a productive first half to the winter. 

Our attention now turns to the new project ‘Pathway to First Eleven cricket’ with the second meeting with the Cricket Academy planned for this week so watch out for further announcements on this exciting long term project in the coming months.

Have a great Christmas and I look forward to updating you all in early 2022 of further plans for the season ahead.


Andy Dalby