Building from within is key to the future of clubs like Pudsey St Lawrence says captain Chris Marsden

Pudsey St Lawrence's 'Archie Scott.
Pudsey St Lawrence's 'Archie Scott.
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Continuity, common sense and looking for in-house solutions as opposed to wafting the chequebook to bring in expensive new signings is starting to become the perceived wisdom in the Bradford League.

For those league aficionados who hold the competition close to their hearts, it is a refreshing development and is key to the long-term vitality of one of the leading local leagues in the country.

Townville's Jonny Booth hits out in his innings of 99 against Barkisland in the Heavy Woollen Cup.

Townville's Jonny Booth hits out in his innings of 99 against Barkisland in the Heavy Woollen Cup.

Nowhere better is this seen than that at champions Pudsey St Lawrence; a team built upon homegrown talents with the likes of captain Chris Marsden, James Smith and Mark Robertshaw having enjoyed considerable success over the years from junior levels right through to the first team.

Now the ‘next generation’ such as Archie Scott, Harry Cullingford and Josh Wilson are also being given a precious ‘window of opportunity’.

Look elsewhere and the desire of clubs to retain a strong core of players and provide pathways to emerging youngsters is also increasingly being seen – partly out of fiscal reality, but also by a conscious desire to build something from ‘the bottom up’.

It is a healthy and welcome development in the view of St Lawrence captain Marsden.

Conor Harvey who took three wickets for Townville.

Conor Harvey who took three wickets for Townville.

He said: “I think it has been the way to go for us over the past four or five years. You look before that at Hanging Heaton who previously got a group of players who stuck together.

“You also look at clubs now like Woodlands who have a good core of players together and who have been playing together for a long time.

“They look a strong side because they know each other’s games and they are all friends. They are playing good cricket.

“Then you look at a team like Wrenthorpe, who have come up from the Championship and have got to be together and want to play for each other and that was shown at the start of the season when they were joint top of the league.

“That is the way clubs have got to go. Especially clubs like us who are not a financial ‘stronghold’ like some other clubs. We cannot afford to go out and just throw money to sign people.”

The spin-offs in terms of promoting homegrown talent and keeping a settled group of players can be twofold, according to Marsden.

It develops a ‘one-club’ ethos that permeates through all levels and also develops affinity and unity, vital prerequisites in most successful sides.

He added: “There is nothing that can beat unity.

“If you get a good group of players together and a good core junior section which promotes good players to play at a good level of senior cricket, I do not think you can go wrong and clubs are trying to adopt that.

“Throwing a lot of money around in trying to get the best players in does not always work.

“We actually have to produce our own juniors. And if we do sign players, they have to be younger ones with potential. We cannot cherry-pick, but I think that is the way that the league is going to go.

“Clubs are trying to adopt that model and there are some very good clubs who do that already. I think others will follow suit.”

Saturday’s programme was decimated by the weather and was a virtual wash-out.

Some action did take place in the Heavy Woollen Cup on Sunday, with 2018 beaten finalists New Farnley (182-7) losing out to Barnsley Woolley Miners (184-5), despite the best efforts of Alex Lilley (4-27).

A fine unbeaten 99 from Jonathan Booth saw Townville (224-4) book their semi-final place after a six-wicket win over Barkisland (223-9).

Booth hit a six and 11 fours in his innings and contributed to a second-wicket stand of 70 by Harry Warwick (34) before putting on 95 for the third wicket with Imran Rafique (40).

Wrenthorpe lost out 3-1 in a bowl out against Buttershaw St Paul’s after a rain-affected game.