Lessons learned as Droylsden CC chase promotion

DROYLSDEN Cricket Club captain Cameron Mapstone has vowed to learn from the mistakes of last season as its first team aims for promotion.

Following a memorable 2023 campaign in the Greater Manchester Cricket League (GMCL) Division One, in which the first XI was dramatically pipped to promotion, Droylsden have recruited strongly in recent weeks with a view to going one step further and delivering silverware to Gardenfold Way.

Ali Azmat – an all-rounder with previous experience playing for Bignall End, Stand and Congleton – has signed terms with the club, while Elliott Millward and Muhammad Ijaz Yousaf have agreed to stay for another season.

Assured opening batsman Adam Stansfield, who has enjoyed stints with Elton and Walshaw in the Premier League and Premier League Two respectively, will also feature for the first XI when the season commences in April 2024.

And in a bid to strengthen the club’s overall structure, Rehan Afridi, a wicketkeeper turned batsman, has agreed to fulfil a role as a coach and player.

Having retained the nucleus of last season’s squad, Cameron – who adopted captain responsibilities in the last quarter of the 2022 season – fancies his side’s chances to make a statement in the GMCL.

Speaking to The Correspondent, he said: “Last season was a real step in the right direction for the club overall.

“The first team was hindered by abandonments for a lengthy period of time but once we got going we managed to create a winning streak which took us to the right end of the table.

“Unfortunately, and to our disappointment, we fell just short of our target. However, we’ll use that experience to stage a title push this season – that’s got to be the aim.

Ali Azmat

“With the team that I’ve assembled, and with a few months of winter training on the horizon, I definitely believe we’ll be in a great position to hit the ground running once the season begins in May.”

Although the club’s priority will be focused on making waves in Division One during the 2024 campaign, Droylsden will also be making a return to the T20 format of the game.

It is a competition they were forced to withdraw from over the previous two seasons, but decisions which, despite not being taken lightly, enabled the two senior sides to considerably strengthen.

Cameron attributes last season’s success to the number of players regularly featuring for the club, as he added: “One of the reasons as to why the first team did well last season was because we had strength in depth.

“In previous years, we would have cherry picked players from the second team to represent the first team on occasions, but last season was different as we always had solid numbers on a weekly basis.

“This had a knock-on effect with the second team as they were always playing at their highest strength, which, in turn, delivered them a much-deserved promotion to Division 4E.

“Overall, the club looks to be in a strong position across all areas and we’re optimistic, and excited, about what the future holds.”

Off the pitch, the club recently held a Halloween Party at Gardenfold Way to great success. The sold-out event, which included a fancy-dress competition, attracted many of the club’s youngsters across various age levels.

And, just a few weeks earlier, Droylsden held the annual presentation evening to celebrate players, volunteers and teams who played their part in 2023.

Like the majority of clubs in Tameside, Droylsden take great pride in the strength of its junior section and believe providing cricket from a young age will lay the foundations for future success.

Cameron said: “Our junior section is an area of the club we value highly.

“We’ve developed a number of talented and promising youngsters who will no doubt go on to have a great career in the game, but the ultimate objective is to provide a fun and friendly environment that plays a part in retaining our current crop of juniors while enticing new faces to the club.

“Maintaining a pathway into the senior sides means the club will be in a strong position for many years to come.”

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