Exciting season anticipated for Richmondshire Cricket Club

Shafiqullah Ghafari.

The 2023 cricket season is being awaited with eager anticipation at Richmondshire Cricket Club with the North Yorkshire South Durham League fixtures starting on Saturday, April 15.

Last summer the first team were hugely successful, capturing the Kerridge, MacMillan, and Collingwood cups. As the season drew to a close, the league trophy also looked nailed on but a poor run of form in the final trio of matches and the weather playing havoc with the final game of the season meant the top spot went to Middlesbrough by one point.

Shafiqullah Ghafari’s debut season was nothing short of spectacular. His mystery leg-spin googly bowling was the scourge of so many teams through the season as he picked up 100 wickets at an average of 15.89 including eight 5-wicket hauls and a best of 7-20. To add to this, he also picked up 424 runs including an explosive 83 off just 53 balls. Shafi will be returning this season having spent the winter with Sylhet Strikers in the Bangladesh Premier League.

The ever reliable Gary Platt returns as English Professional having scored over 1700 runs for the club last season and a second English professional has been added with the arrival of Dan Hodgson. As a hugely talented wicket-keeper and top-order batter, Dan joins us after many successful seasons playing in the Bradford League and his experience playing for Yorkshire for many years earlier in his career has already brought a fresh approach to pre-season training.

Both Shafi and Dan are qualified coaches and will be closely involved in junior player development throughout the season and the club have arranged for them to provide small group and one-to-one sessions with juniors during their training sessions.

A further exciting addition to the playing strength is Brandon Glover. Brandon has played for the Netherlands national side since 2019 and has also played for Northamptonshire in English county cricket. He has recently joined Durham for their assault on the Vitality Blast T20 competition and his 85+mph bowling will bring some more firepower to Richmondshire’s bowling. He should be available to Richmondshire for the start of the season and when not required by Durham.

The club’s success last season was not limited to the first team. The second XI lifted the NYSD Second Team Salver finishing 5th in Division One. The third XI won the Sunday Premier Division on the final day, holding on against Hartlepool at Park Drive to become the first side to win the division for a second time.

The fourth team consolidated their 2021 promotion success by surviving in a very competitive Division 3, while the fifth team also finished safe mid-table in Darlington and District Cricket League Division B.

By the end of the season, an incredible 18 individual centuries had been scored across all competitions with 161 not out by Joe White against Raby Castle being the highest of the lot. The first team spin-twins of Shaf and Aussie amateur Tom Brooks dominated the bowling performances with four of the top five bowling figures, though Joe White also managed to bag 6-28 for the fifths.

For the 2023 season Bob Carr and Brad Elsworth remain as 1st and 2nd team captains respectively. Michael Platt continues to lead the 4th XI and John Bewell will also continue as 5th team skipper. John Clark has taken over from me as 3rd XI captain looking to retain the league title and continue to develop our talented junior players as future first and second team stars.

While we have seen some of our home-grown talent move on from the club in search of new challenges, our junior section continues to produce competitive and talented players. The Juniors, Girls and Ladies teams continue to thrive and succeed. Our junior section continues to be the envy of a great many clubs, and our successful girls teams at u13 and u15 along with our tremendous Ladies soft-ball side continue to open up the club to wider participation.

In March, more than 20 of our Richmondshire juniors had trials for the Yorkshire regional squads, with seven of them progressing to the final stages. Ultimately, Joe White, Max Percival (u15s), Joe Brookes (u12s), Sam Fudali (u11s) and Mylo Walker (u10s) were all successful, but congratulations should go to all who took part in the trials representing Richmondshire Cricket Club.

Pippa MacLelland played and captained Yorkshire U11 girls team a year young last year and on Wednesday this week, we expect her to captain and be selected again.

In addition Bertie Morris (u12s), Louis Morris (u11s), Beth Poole and Sophie White (both u13s) who have again been selected for Durham’s County Age Group Squads for the 2023 season.

Management and preparation of our three grounds has taken a new turn this season. Geoff Thorpe, after many, many years of expert stewardship of the ground at Hurgill Road, has now retired, and his skills at preparing wickets to suit the precise needs of our teams will be missed.

In Geoff’s place, Mark Layfield has taken on the role of head groundsman and despite the atrocious pre-season conditions, he and Charles Holt have been working flat-out to ensure the grounds at the club, the school and at Gilling West are ready for the first round of fixtures.

The opening weekend’s fixtures see the 1st XI take on newly promoted Bishop Auckland at home the 2nds travel to Billingham (both 12.30 starts) and the 4ths go to Great Ayton on Saturday |(1.30 start) while the 3rd team host Middlesbrough on Sunday (2pm start).

Irvings Estate Agents continue as club’s main sponsors but the club benefits from a range of sponsors who will be welcomed to the club for Sponsors Day on June 17th when our 1st Team host Barnard Castle in the league.