Lightcliffe will have a new captain and some fresh faces in the team for 2019 as they bid to step up on last season’s ninth place in the Bradford Premier League.
Ian Philliskirk has returned to the club and takes over as skipper from Matt Baxter, who is returning to Morley as captain.
Philliskirk, a left-handed batsman and occasional off-spin bowler, played for Lightcliffe in 2016 and 2017 and was captain at Ossett last year.
A former winner of the league’s leading all-rounder prize, his former clubs include Farsley and Baildon.
Lightcliffe chairman Bob Horne said Baxter had indicated two thirds of the way through last season that he would not be captain in 2019 and had now returned to play alongside friends at Morley.
The Wakefield Road club have signed a couple of opening bowlers in Ibrar Younis from relegated East Bierley and promising youngster Ben Cliff from Copley.
Younis will team up with Yasir Abbas, back for a second season, to form what Horne hopes will be a potent attacking spearhead in the first team. Both took 30-plus wickets last season on pitches which offered seam bowlers less assistance than usual.
Cliff, who is only 16, is more of a long-term prospect and likely to start off in the seconds. The towering youngster has played for Yorkshire Under 15 and the North of England Under 15s.
Horne said he had been on tour to India and Sri Lanka and his ambition was to play county cricket.
“We have high hopes for him, obviously, and are always delighted when Halifax League cricketers choose to test their skills with us in the Bradford League,” said Horne.
Another recruit from the Halifax League is this year’s record-breaking batsman Christian Silkstone.
The Triangle skipper set a couple of top-section records with his 1,401 run tally, including an even more startling 316 in one go at home to Thornton.
“He’ll get the opportunity to bat high up the order and we’re obviously delighted that he’s decided to join us,” said Horne.
Overseas player Suleman Khan, a regular in the Lightcliffe ranks for all but one season in recent times, is returning.
Khan scored more than 500 runs and took 42 wickets in the league in 2018 and Horne said he was a proven match-winner capable of taking the best attacks apart on his day. Outstanding batsman Alex Stead, all-rounder Josh Wheatley and long-serving pair Jonathan Wilson and Mark Horne will be other key members of the first team. Wicketkeeper Horne has indicated that the 2019 season could be his last.
Horne said cricket chairman Chris Taylor had spoken to a dozen potential targets during the close-season and Lightcliffe would have one of the smallest playing budgets in the Bradford League’s top flight.
Lightcliffe are yet to appoint a second team captain following Michael Brooke’s decision to stand down after six successful seasons in the Premier Division.
Horne said: “He’s always done a wonderful job in encouraging youngsters.”
Lightcliffe CC are planning to buck the trend and expand the number of teams they field in 2019.
The Wakefield Road club have many good young cricketers aged between nine and 13 and club chairman Bob Horne revealed that the intention was to give some of the older ones a taste of adult cricket next season.
He said: “One or two will probably play in the seconds. Also, we’re starting an additional team on Saturdays, while continuing in the Halifax Sunday League.
“They will play friendlies next year so that we can test the viability of such a venture. If all goes well, we hope that this team will enter a league in 2020.”
Horne said the new Saturday side would be run by Wes Brooks and made up of a fairly even split between adults and youngsters.
The new side will bring Lightcliffe’s teams tally to an impressive 17 next year.