Bradshaw eyes title with ‘strongest’ Harrogate cricket squad yet

NADV 1208112 Harrogate CC V Cleethorpes CC. Alexis Twigg. (1208112AM5)
NADV 1208112 Harrogate CC V Cleethorpes CC. Alexis Twigg. (1208112AM5)

Harrogate Cricket Club skipper Ryan Bradshaw reckons his 2013 squad have the perfect mix between youth and experience ahead of the season start.

‘Gate get their Yorkshire Premier League campaign underway on Saturday when they host last year’s fifth-placed finishers Rotherham Town.

Bradshaw has made youthful additions to his squad this season and hopes a drier season will help his side go one better than last year’s second-place.

Australian Callum How joins as the overseas player and he will bat at the top of the order.

Bradshaw has snapped up spinner George Ross from Yorkshire Academy and Knaresborough quick Graham Whiles from Barnsley.

Another spinner Andrew Laws has also joined the ranks and Bradshaw admitted he had looked to sign a couple of tweakers after finding spin options lacking last year.

He said: “We have a really strong side. Out of all the winters we have had, it is looking the strongest.

“This is my fourth year in charge. When I took over we had a five year plan to win the league.We have a good mix of youth and experience. With myself, Alexis Twigg, Vic Craven and Ben Biker we have some experienced heads.

“When you go to training it is pretty competitive at the moment, which is the way it should be. The club have strengthened in depth and we have lads that want to be in the first team.”

Harrogate lost the league title to York after rain interrupted the final day of last season.

Bradshaw bemoaned last year’s weather troubles but insists it was some respite to say they had lost to the best country’s team, after York won the National Club Cup.

“It wasfrustrating as we were leading for so long. We would get a downpour in Harrogate whereas York would get a win,” he said.

“But it was a still great season. This year there’s a little bit more pressure but we are back to where we should be.”

The skipper anticipates rivals York to be one of the strong teams again this year and rates Doncaster as the league’s surprise package.

On the rest of the league, he said: “York will be very strong and Rotherham have always been competitive.

“Barnsley have lost a few player so I think they might be a bit weaker. Yorkshire Academy are always very strong and they are an organised set-up.”

How joins from Western Australia and has tasted North Yorkshire cricket before when playing for Knaresborough two years ago.

Bradshaw said he had originally signed Zimbabwean international David Cremer but the bowler was instead selected for his country’s test series with Bangladesh.

He said: “Callum How’s played at Knaresborough for two years so he knows the area well. He’s 20 now so it’ll be a development year for him.”