sbci’S expectation levels for 2012 are starting to rise after a great few days under new skipper Jamie Sykes.
Last year’s middle-section champions returned to the top flight this summer with “consolidation” predictably the buzz word.
Victory over Parish Cup holders Copley on the opening day was a great start and although Sykes’s men came a cropper at home to champions Triangle they have since beaten Booth and Bradshaw in the Premier Division,
The side from The Astleys have also made good progress in the cup at the expense of Division One pair Oxenhope and Northowram Hedge Top.
Last weekend’s wins over Bradshaw and the Rams were followed by a favourable cup quarter final draw on Monday night, when they were paired with bottom section side Old Town.
Ex-Barkisland player Sykes has been encouraged by his players’ start after being thrust into the captaincy when star batsman Jamie Summerscales stood down.
Summerscales - whose brother Ben has also successfully led the side in recent years - wanted to concentrate on his batting and he has already scored 400-plus runs in 2012 in generally bowler-friendly conditions.
“Jamie is a big player and if he is on song you do tend to win games,” said first change bowler and middle order batsmen Sykes.
SBCI have real competition for places at the moment with new signing Matty Hoyle from Sowerby St Peters back in action earlier than anticipated after being injured playing for Old Brodleians RUFC during the winter.
He has linked up with fellow seamers Robin Hanson and Ollie Benson while Craig Potts is back from injury and batting at five and Sykes’s vice-captain Tom Wood is going in at first wicket down.
With opener Sam Hinchcliffe taking the gloves, it means Simon Wood is in the seconds along with the likes of last week’s century-maker Lewis Firth and Dan Keighley, who scored 47 in the firsts’ opening game but then went on holiday and has been unable to get his place back.
“We have got strength in depth at the club all way down to likes of George Hampshire in juniors,” said the 25-year-old Sykes, who regards SBCI as a very family-orientated club.
Sykes’s side are third in the early-season table and they face the side directly above them, Blackley, at home tomorrow.
Blackley lost a few key players in the winter and Sykes said tomorrow’s foes were the surprise packet so far.
“We would hope for 12 points at home,” he said. “The better weather should favour batsmen more so we will have to bowl and field well.”
Sykes is happy with the decision to raise the number of points for a complete win, when the losing side is bowled out, from 10 to 12.
“We certainly need to start picking up 12 points - that makes a massive difference and makes the league more interesting.”
HALIFAX League Umpires’ Association chief Andrew Mitchell has appaled for anyone who can umpire in the near future to get in touch with him on (01422) 356365.
“We are short as umpires are unavailable due to many reasons,” he said.