Stability key to Mottram CC’s progress

MOTTRAM Cricket Club is out to secure the Greater Manchester Cricket League’s Championship title this forthcoming season.

But when the action arrives, taking things forward away from the wicket is as much of a priority for new president Liam Wright.

For the first team at Broadbottom Road, the season opener at Friarmere presents an opportunity to right the wrongs of last season and establish the foundations for their ultimate objective of winning the title.

The squad will be led into battle by the experienced Oliver Andrew, who will be ably assisted by overseas professional Tafadzwa Tsiga.

The 29-year-old Zimbabwean wicket keeper, one of the top scorers with the bat last season, returns for a third successive term on the back of his Test debut against the West Indies in February.

Mottram Cricket Club

And following a change of direction behind the scenes, Tafadzwa – or ‘Taz’ as he’s known to players and supporters – will be reunited with Liam in his newfound position.

In a bid to drive the club forward off the pitch, the 36-year-old was unanimously voted as president in January following Allen Bouchier’s decision to step down after 39 years of service.

His appointment has opened a new and exciting chapter in the club’s history – a chapter that will, by his own admission, be focused on stability.

But that is not to say the club will not be striving for glory in all formats of the game.

In fact, Liam has outlined the club’s aims and believes the first team possesses the quality and experience to deliver silverware in six months’ time.

Speaking to The Correspondent about his newfound role and long-term plans, he said: “Following Allen’s decision to step down towards the back end of last season, I was approached by someone at the club to take over and, despite my lack of knowledge about the role itself, I happily accepted for a number of reasons.

“I still play cricket for the club and have done since the age of nine. During that time, I’ve also had the privilege of captaining the first team and second team, developing a love for the club and relationships along the way.

“There will always be disagreements at any committee, so I’ve been brought on to act as a middleman and something of a mediator. I want to be the voice for anyone who has an opinion, concern or question relating to club matters.”

Equipped with 27 years’ experience of playing for the club, it would be fair to say that Liam is part of the furniture and has seen many changes along the way.

Having been members of the Derbyshire League for a 19-year period, Mottram decided to take a leap of faith and join the Greater Manchester League in 2020.

The move was based on the club’s concern over the standard of cricket and has so far been beneficial for all concerned, with the first team claiming promotion to the Championship in 2021 and on course to further climb the pyramid in what is considered a better quality and more competitive structure.

Liam added: “I think there’s more stability this year than there has been over the past few seasons.

“Oliver being named as the first team captain will serve us well, as he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he leads from the front with both bat and ball.

“From a first team perspective, we should be pushing for promotion. We came very close to achieving that last season and just fell short, so we want to learn from our mistakes and deliver that objective by the end of the season.

“The second team is a different proposition as we’ve lost a couple of experienced players and will be fielding a few more inexperienced players.

“We believe that it will be a bit of an experimental season for the second team and one that will provide the new players with a platform to show what they can do.

“We’re always looking to develop the squad and have another great leader in Taz. For Mottram, our emphasis is placed on our professional who plays for the first team, coaches our juniors and helps around the club. He’s not just a paid cricketer – he’s a paid member of the club.

“We don’t bring a professional in to play on a Saturday, take his money and go home. He has to be embedded into the culture of the club, lead by example and give back in various areas.

“Consistency is key for anything. Trust is a big aspect of the club and we don’t want to chop and change every season.

“He’s the politest man I’ve ever met and he’s a joy to have around. You never know what you’re going to get with an overseas professional, so to have that familiarity with the juniors and, more importantly their parents, is a huge concept to consider.”

It is no secret that a handful of clubs in the Greater Manchester League have been financially backed in recent seasons, with several players earning big amounts of money to represent the club and deliver silverware.

But that is not the case for Mottram and has not been for decades.

The club’s ambition is centred around developing junior players with a long-term, sustainable model.

However, that is not to say Liam is against the proliferation of money in club cricket – quite the opposite, in fact.

He said: “I’m not opposed to anything when it comes to making cricket better, because I think it can be grown and unfortunately, the only way you can grow the sport is by making sure you don’t lose the players who are good enough to be playing a better standard of cricket, because if you lose them the leagues are weakened and the sport dies.

“I come from a background of semi-professional football, so I’m accustomed to the payment side of sport.

“I have no problem with people being paid and I think it’s good for the game of cricket. However, with that said, I think there should be a cap on the amount of money each club can pay. It all depends on what you want to achieve as a club.”

Liam is set to juggle his time between presidential duties, married life and playing for the club.

He is under no illusion, however, that his position in the second team is secure and will happily step aside to bring through emerging talent.

That’s not to say that he won’t be ready to don the whites when asked and necessary – which could be sooner than he thinks with the experienced Michael Scott out of action with a broken foot.

But, for the time being, Liam will be focused on the proposed plans to renovate the club house with help from the ECB County Grants Fund.

As part of the redevelopment – which is being done to host more functions and generate revenue – new flooring, new chairs and new lighting will be fitted, along with a general makeover and decorating.

In related news, a new structure to the T20 competition will take place this season and is considered to be more favourable to the club.

As well as being more regionalised and providing a better opportunity to progress, Mottram will be reunited with old friends Woodley, Hadfield St Andrews and Dukinfield.

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