In his first season as Captain of the Ramsbottom CC Second XI , Dale talks about his aspirations for the 2019 season. 

On reflection- how was the 2018 season for you personally ?

I had a pretty quiet 2018 in the first team but learnt a lot from our pro’s, Seni and Werner. I think there was a bit of disappointment that we weren’t able to get over the line in the T20 tournament and of course our defeat in the cup at Todmorden where as a collective we felt that we should have got the job done from the position Rehan and Si Hanson got us to. Of course, we have a young squad who I feel will benefit greatly from those experiences. At the latter end of the season I went down into the second team with a clear aim of cementing a place in the top division for 2019, so to do that from being rooted in the bottom half was a good achievement all round.

What have you been doing over the winter to keep active ?

I am one of those cricketers who likes to hibernate until the new year so I’m ashamed to say very little until our annual cross – fit sessions began!! Maybe next year I will have to take care of myself a little better and not be faced with the uphill task of going from 0-100%.

How was winter nets for you and the boys?

This year we started using the facilities at Fearns High School which is a better standard than we perhaps are used to. This year, Tom was keen on each of the lads taking greater responsibility for their own game and to use the sessions to benefit the areas of their game they felt most relevant. Personally, I feel the turnout has been better this year than previous seasons and that the lads have really bought into the team ethic that we’ve harvested over the past two years.

With Laurie Marsden retiring and you taking up the helm of the second X1, what are your aspirations for the season? 

Firstly, I would like to point out the great job Laurie did in leading his team and lament the fact that we have a big personality and a proven performer to replace in the dressing room. Growing up any Rammy the first aim has always been to compete for the league and cup so we’ll be starting off with very clear goals in mind. I think we probably have 30 lads competing for 22 spots each week and whatever happens both the first and second team will have a great mix of youth and experience. My aim is to win both the league and cup and to aid some of our talented young players in their pathways to first team cricket.

With both the first X1 and second X1 playing in the top division, who are the teams to beat ?

I think it would be naive to look past Walden this year but I think the other clubs and ourselves will be much more aware of what to expect this season and be better equipped to take games to them. Lowerhouse look to have strengthened even more so and Burnley are always ready to go toe-to-toe in every game. 

Teams like Darwen and Clitheroe have established themselves so well in the Lancashire League and are not to be underestimated. I genuinely believe that there will be 5/6 teams going all out for silverware in both the first and second team top division.

Which teams do you enjoy playing against the most and why ?

Games against Burnley are always a fun mix of competitive and respectful so I always enjoy that fixture. Lowerhouse away can be an intimidating place to go and their following always make for a great atmosphere. I think we will miss Haslingden this year as it’s always a special occasion to play against our nearest rivals.

Favourite ground and why?

I have always enjoyed playing at Burnley. They tend to have best pitches in the league and I scored my maiden first team 50 and 5 – for there. I think the competitive nature of that fixture has given me an extra gear and the fans aren’t afraid to voice their opinion as you make the long walk back to the dressing room!

Second Xl players to watch this season?

I can’t look too far past Chris Round who was the most consistent performer in second , third and T20 cricket last season. He has a great mix of skills with the ball and of course left- arm spinners are always worth their weight in gold. It’s going to be difficult for him to get much of a look-in this season with the evergreen (if not creaking ) Jon Fielding and a pro who bowls spin. But I believe we have a natural heir to Trig’s throne waiting in the wings.

Also, lads like Owen Collinge who impressed so much in the first team last season with his athleticism and natural ability with bat and bowl will be waiting for his moment as will Nick Round who on his day can be a rock at the top of the order.

Best game you have played in for Rammy?

It’s hard to look past Nelson away in the final game of 2016! The way we grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat to claim the league title will live with me forever and the celebrations afterwards will live long in the memory. We were at the end of a three year cycle with Daryl as the pro and it was a fitting end to a season where we gave absolutely everything.