Losing start for Harrogate CC, but new captain Will Bates is excited by the challenge ahead

Harrogate CC’s 1st XI began 2021 with a defeat, but new captain Will Bates is confident that his young side can hold their own in ECB Yorkshire Premier League North this term.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 2:24 pm
Harrogate CC captain Will Bates addresses his players during Saturday's home defeat to Castleford.

Champions of the division in 2016, the Roosters have been on a downward trajectory in recent years, finishing just one place above the relegation zone in 2019 – the last full season to be completed before the coronavirus pandemic.

And, although Bates is expecting another “challenging” summer, he believes that his players can “beat anyone” on their day and expects them to be competitive in every game.

“Obviously it was disappointing to start the season with a loss, but we’re a young side and I think we’ll get better as the season goes on,” he said following Saturday’s 76-run defeat to Castleford.

“We finished 10th in 2019 and of course it would be nice not be involved in a relegation fight this year. I believe that we can be competitive against anyone in this division and beat anyone on our day.

“As a club, we made a decision to back all the young players we have coming through and give them the opportunity to play first-team cricket. So, we don’t pay anyone except for our overseas player, whereas a lot of other clubs in the league are paying a lot.

“It is going to be challenging, however I’ve got faith in the quality of the lads coming through. It’s an exciting time to be captaining this group with so much young talent currently at the club.”

Harrogate gave a decent account of themselves with the bat when they took on Castleford at St George's Road, but were always going to be up against it chasing a score of 317/9.

Cooper Smith, Sri Lankan Ishan Abeysekara and Dominic Bradburne – on his first-team debut – each claimed three wickets, but it was opening batsman Henry Thompson who really impressed for the hosts, hitting 137 not out in their total of 241/8 from 50 overs.

“It was always going to be a tough ask, chasing a score like that,” Bates added.

“I lost the toss and it was a really bad toss to lose. It was a very good pitch to bat on and we probably weren’t at our best for the first 20 overs.

“We bowled pretty well after that and Cooper Smith took a couple of wickets to get us back in the game, but in Chesney Hughes, Castleford have a former professional who scored 270 [for Derbyshire] against Yorkshire at Headingley, so I’d expect them to be right up there challenging this season.

“We batted pretty well in response and got a couple of bonus points, so at least we came away with something from the match and there were quite a few positives to take, particularly the performances of Thompson, Smith and Bradburne.”