Northowram Fields CC: Six arrivals

Sam Gardner is one of Northowram Fields' recruits for 2019
Sam Gardner is one of Northowram Fields' recruits for 2019

It will be a new-look Northowram Fields which takes to the field in the Bradford League in 2019 following half a dozen arrivals, three departures and new captains in the firsts and second teams.

John Lister has stepped down as skipper after five seasons but will act as deputy to Dru Patel in a Championship Two season which has an eye-catching opening fixture away to former Halifax League champions Jer Lane on April 27.

The bowling attack has had major surgery with spearhead Josh Bennett supplemented by captures Sam Gardner from Lightcliffe, Humayan Shahzad from Keighley and Australian all-rounder Billy Campbell.

Gardner used to play for over-the-wall rivals Shelf Northowram Hedge Top and almost signed for Fields once before. Shahzad won the Championship Two seconds bowling averages last season with 31 wickets at 8.52.

Shahzad is also expected to contribute runs to a batting order supplemented by Dean Crossley, a prolific runmaker for Southowram in the Halifax League for several years.

The other signings are Farhan Hussain from Jer Lane and Charlie Holt-Conway from Luddenden Foot.

That pair will add to a rich pool of teenage talent at the Westercroft Lane club, which already includes the likes of Kyle Welsh, Jacob Slater and Louis Cockburn.

Australian amateur Campbell is in his early 20s. He bowls medium pace and bats in the middle order.

Long-serving first teamer Jason Smith will be the experienced hand on the tiller of a youthful second team, who were promoted to Championship One last season.

That leaves a vacancy for a slow bowler in the first team with three or four emerging candidates among the younger players.

Sri Lankan batsman Ajantha ‘AJ’ Weerapulli, hampered by a broken finger last season, has retired but is continuing to use his considerable coaching talents to help the club’s youngsters.

Opening bowler Zafar Khan, who has been a good servant but found wickets and overs harder to come by in the last two seasons, has joined Rastrick CC along with batsman Shakeel Mahmood, who scored a century in the seconds late last season.

Lister said Fields had strengthened and freshened up the squad after a fairly settled last three or four years. “We are aiming to push for promotion,” he said.