It’s been a case of ‘so far, so good’ for Duffield CC 1sts in their bid to reach the Derbyshire Premier League - and their captain feels there is still plenty more to come from his side.
After finishing fifth last season in the DCCL Division One, Duffield began this season like a train, winning all of their first five matches.
Since then, it’s been a little more stop/start thanks to a combination of a couple of defeats and two games falling foul of the weather, but Paul Bakel says his side is still to hit top gear, an encouraging sign for the rest of the season.
Paul Bakel said: “It’s been going well so far, although we had a little blip recently. The success this season can be put down to a combination of having a settled side and also a relatively young side - the average age is about 23 - where a number of young lads who have come up through our youth system and have been at this level for a while now are maturing at the right time.
“We also carefully considered who we were going to bring in over the winter and made three key acquisitions. We brought back spinner Jono Clare, who had started with us as a youngster, went to gain some experience of the Premier League with Sandiacre Town and is back now.
“James Pipe, the ex-Derbyshire wicketkeeper/batsman has joined after moving to the area. He doesn’t keep now but is a very effective batsman and has helped greatly in making improvements to our fielding with some very useful tips.
“We also brought in Luke Webb, our left arm Aussie swing bowler, who plays first grade cricket in Sydney. He’s quick enough to cause problems in this league and, while he has been getting over an injury since the first match, he recently took the first five wickets to fall in an innings and we saw him able to run in at full tilt for the first time. He showed that he can cause real problems for sides this season.
“So we’ve got a good blend of products of our youth system plus some good acqusitions.
“We finished fifth last season and we looked at Marehay, who won the league, and saw they had real strength in depth, batted a long way down, with five or six good bowling options, so that is what we have tried to do this year. Our aim was to be one of the contenders at the top end and we feel we have the players to give us a good chance.
“It’s so far, so good, and I feel that there is the potential to see even more from us. The batting has not really fully fired yet so that is still to come.
He added: “Luke Wells and Jono Clare have been the standout bowlers and the batting standout is Chris Sheldon. Chris is a young player who has come through our youth sides.
“He has really stepped up this season. There was a weekend in May when he scored a century on the Saturday in the league and then 150 on the Sunday in the cup so it’s really clicked for him and it has been good to see the investment the club has made in him over the years coming to fruition.
“We need to be more consistent in laying the platform at the top of the order that will allow our batsmen after that to come and hopefully do something spectacular.
“The club played in the old top flight back in the 80s and 90s when it was Division One, but not since the reorganisation and since it has been the Premier League, so there’s an incentive there.”