WITH THE new season just eight weeks away, the pieces are being put in place at Flowery Field.
The Throstle Bank Street club will be eagerly anticipating its first season in the Greater Manchester Cricket League Premier Division after promotion and opens the new campaign with a testing home tie against Roe Green, who finished third last year.
And excitement is building at seeing new pro Fergus Lellman in action.
The 21-year-old arrives with a stellar reputation in the New Zealand junior ranks, having represented the Black Caps Under-19 side in 12 one day internationals, as well as playing for them in the World Cup in South Africa.
A heavy scorer in premier club cricket for Otumoetai Cadets in NZ, the right-hand bat racked up nearly 1,200 runs over the last two domestic seasons and picked up 30 wickets for good measure with his right arm medium fast bowling.
His trip to the Tameside area – where he replaces Shreevats Goswami – will not be his first experience of English conditions.
In 2021, he was with Downham Stow in the Norfolk Alliance. Aged 19 at the time, he scored 805 runs, averaging 40, with a top score of 140, and got 20 wickets.
And he has broken into the first class ranks, opening the batting for Northern Districts in the last 12 months.
Announcing Lellman’s signing, club officials welcomed him, stating: “Fergus will bring a wealth of experience alongside his cricketing knowledge.”
After the successful campaign last year, Flowery will once again be under the leadership of Owen Feakes.
It was not only his direction on the field that was a catalyst for the promotion charge but his 660 runs were crucial as well.
He will again be supported by Adam Bardsley as Vice-Captain and they will be hoping county commitments with Leicestershire for Mike Finan do not overly restrict his availability.
Finan certainly made an impact at Grace Road at the tail end of the 2022 season, taking 13 wickets and hitting a maiden first class half-century, performances which saw him rewarded with a two-year contract.
Making the short move from Mottram, Jay Riley will add strength to the middle-order and can also bowl usefully.
However, the GMCL registrations list suggests that Keegan Taylor will be departing to Denton West.
There is also an increase in the activity at junior level with the introduction of an under-18 team and the provision of an All Stars and Dynamos programme.
Additionally, the club has entered a third XI in the Sunday competition – this is a real opportunity to help juniors bridge the gap into adult, longer form, cricket.
It certainly looks to be a promising season ahead at Flowery and one that everyone connected with the club will be anticipating eagerly at all levels.
Flowery Field are one of three Tameside teams in the Premier Division, together with Denton St Lawrence and Denton West, meaning some fascinating local derbies are in prospect.