DARLEY Dale CC 1sts are currently third as the Division 4N season approaches its halfway stage and skipper Craig Elliott feels the team is very handily placed for a promotion push.
West Hallam WR have raced 48 points clear at the top but Darley are just 13 points behind second-placed Chesterfield, with a game in hand, meaning next Saturday’s game between the two sides could prove particularly crucial.
Craig Elliott told the Mercury: “Both of our teams are third in their leagues so it’s been a good start so far.
“And traditionally, the first seems to do better in the second half of the season, so there is optimism that we can push on for second.
“We had a couple of seasons where we seemed to struggle to find our level but we got into the winning mentality at the back end of last season when we only lost one game after the halfway point, and we’ve kept that going this time around.
“Basically, only one team is going to win that league and that’s West Hallam WR, who have added three ex-Premier League players and an overseas player to their side, and they’re well clear already.
“But we’re in there challenging with Chesterfield for second so next Saturday’s match will be important.
“It’s a hard league to get out of. Only one team goes up automatically and then it’s down to who gets the most points out of the second-placed teams in Division 4N and 4S with one of them going up, so that’s what we have to aim for.”
He continued: “We are well-placed although the weather has made it a very stop/start season. We’ve had two rained off but so have other teams.
“It has meant that just when you start to get hard pitches that are good to bat on, you then get a wet spell and they’re back to being green, spongey early season-style pitches again.
“The bowling is probably our strength as a team and Simon Cotterill and Paul Carson have been excellent all season. Paul in particular has been extremely economical and always puts it on the spot while Sam Lightfoot has bowled some good spells too.
“Andrew Paulett has come in from Ashford and has done very well among the batsmen. I think he’ll score a lot of runs for us.
“I’ve had some good knocks too, Jack Stone, Jamie Watts, James Marsden have all made useful contributions and Jack Stone has been excellent with his wicketkeeping. He stands up to all the quicks and has done extremely well.”
Craig added: “The seconds are doing well too. They are third in Division 7N and, like everyone, have suffered because of the weather.
“They have only had one dry match at Darley so it’s been stop/start for them too. Matt Tong has led the way with the ball and Jonny Shaw with the bat, so they are well placed. A lot of work has gone in on the wicket so once we get a decent dry spell I think we’ll really see the benefit of those improvements and that will help us in the second half of the season.
“The club celebrates its 150th anniversary next year, so if we can get both teams into a higher league ready for that, then it would be a great way to mark it.”