A Q&A with Andy Dalby looking ahead to 2020 and some of his views on the league and its structure.
1 How do you see the 2020 season going for RCC?
I’m always optimistic that we will compete for Silverware. The remit at the start of every season is a top four finish.
If I’m honest I’d love to have a real go at the LCB Knockout Cup, especially with the fixture secretary supporting teams competing in it. I believe all the Lancashire League teams have a realistic chance of doing well again.
I believe we have strengthened well in a number of key areas. For me, it’s crucial that a successful team has a number of bowling options. This will hopefully allow Daryn (Smit) to get the best out of all the lads on a variation of surfaces.
2 Will player movements increase with the two division format with the better amateurs ending up at a smaller pool of clubs?
The new league structure has certainly invigorated not only the players, but supporters of all Lancashire League Clubs.
You win 2/3 games and you start thinking about a title challenge. You lose 2/3 games and you start thinking about relegation. There are certainly no easy games in the Lancashire League with each team capable of beating each other.
I believe that the league will go from strength to strength in the coming years. Naturally this means some players will want to move clubs to play at the highest level they can.
That is the nature of the beast: You’ll never get everyone agreeing on this, I certainly want the best players in this league and if that means they move, then so be it.
3 How will clubs still retain a core of local 1st team players?
It is essential that each club should set out to have a number of home grown players in their team which have come through the junior ranks. This often means you have a vibrant junior section.
It cannot be underestimated the work that the junior section does for a club.
I know our junior section is thriving with Phil Croft (Junior Chairman) working tirelessly to ensure the pool of juniors coming through is healthy for years to come.
We have been criticised in the past for bringing players in with a lack of perceived thought or rational? Believe me, in the last few seasons I think we have got it right!
Each player that has come to RCC over the last 3/4 years has improved our team and club in their own way.
If a junior is good enough then they will get their chance. Tom Parton is an excellent example of this.
4 Do RCC pay any amateurs?
Pardon the pun, however I wish I had a pound for every time I have been told that RCC are paying players. This is from not only people within the club, but also from some of our noisy neighbours.
(If you believe the rumours, then we are paying at six amateurs!!!)
I can tell you now - RCC are playing with one paid professional and ten amateurs who are NOT getting paid. I take pride in this fact as a number of players have turned down stupid amounts of money to remain at RCC.
It is testament to those individuals that they have done this as I can name at least five players we have lost in the past decade to the lure of cash: some of which were second teamers!!!
I’m certainly not knocking this as each individual’s circumstances are different, some lads justify playing cricket by getting paid, others see cricket as a social game and a release from their daily lives and often stressful jobs.
Is there any longevity in paying players - I’m not so sure?
5 Who are the top 3 challengers for the league in 2020 - both divisions and you can’t pick RCC
· Lowerhouse (we always have good competitive games against them)
· Walsden (although they’ve not played at Rammy since coming into the league)
· Burnley (Ockie is a shrewd signing)
· Church (We all know how good a player Ash is)
· Rishton (SVB factor)
· Hassy (looking forward to a few red wines with Sen)
6 How will RCC cope with the loss of Tom Parton for the season?
Tom is a massive player for RCC: I have to say his batting was consistently good over a number of years. It’s a real shame he didn’t break the amateur batting record a couple of seasons back as he certainly deserved to.
In essence we’ve lost three players in one; Captain, keeper and opening batter. It always helps a club when a player is honest about their future and Tom spoke to me very early on last season about the possibility of going to Australia. I told him he would be a fool not to take this once in a lifetime opportunity.
This gave us time to think about our make-up of the team for 2020 with Daryn an obvious choice to lead the team. I believe in Kieren, Jake and Harry, they will certainly make up for the loss of Tom’s runs.
In summary: Tom is still very much part of RCC and you never know? There may be a chance he may be back over the summer months for a couple of weeks so you may see him yet in his baggy green?
7 Which younger players do you see challenging for regular 1st team cricket?
I’m really looking forward to seeing a number of the lads further develop this season. I’ve mentioned it previously in an article that our T20 ‘winning’ team of 2019 had a number of Under 19’s in there, so for me the future is looking good.
The obvious one is JJ Fielding: however he won’t be available until the second half of the season due to school commitments. Admittedly his stats weren’t great last year so I know he’ll want to rectify this. It will certainly be like having a new signing for the back nine! Plus it’s always an interesting dynamic seeing three Fielding’s in the same dressing room!
Another player is Jake Walker: Jake made his debut for the 1st XI at the back end of 2019. He has shown real promise in 2019 and didn’t look out of place.
He was the obvious choice for winning a number of accolades at the Presentation evening.
8 Who do you see as the most improved players over the last 12 months?
A number of players certainly improved last season, it’s hard to single out one individual as we played well as a team fairly consistently.
I think it’s important that every player looks to improve again next season. If we stand still, we will be left behind as the standard of teams are certainly improving year upon year.
As a cricket committee we are fully committed in giving the players a solid platform off the field with training being overseen by Brian Taylor.
For those that don’t know BT? As a player he was a winner and from speaking to him in the close season he is looking forward to the challenge. He will certainly expect the best in terms of commitment and focus. (a Q&A with BT will be published in the next week or so)
He will also offer a valuable opinion in team selection.
9 If you could have one amateur back from the last decade for this season who would you pick and why?
Great question! The man of few words - Mick Haslam .
Great bowler/great attitude/great person.
10 How long before we see women regularly playing 1st team cricket
The women’s game has evolved massively over the last few years with the game getting the recognition it thoroughly deserves. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see one of the girls make their debuts in a 1st XI L/League fixture.
The RCC ladies Team have certainly started well. I’m very much looking forward to seeing them at training in the next couple of weeks.