BY STEVE MCHUGH: ONE of the stalwart members of Heywood CC’s “backroom staff” believes that exciting times are ahead - if the club’s younger players “want it”.
Keith Warren came to Crimble in 2005 after a long association with local cricket, firstly as a player in the now defunct North Western League for Blackley then as groundsman at Stand from 1992.
He officially stepped down from the position of Heywood groundsman a couple of years ago but still is still one of the main people responsible for looking after the big Crimble square.
Keith’s wealth of experience is also invaluable in helping oversee the club’s coaches nuture the young talent.
Now he sees Heywood having a bright future after the success of NatWest CricketForce day transformed the ground and made many more people aware of what the club has to offer.
“I think that day was the start of the future,” he said. “We may get some players out of it, but it was particularly good for the people of the town to see what we have got down here.
“And perhaps we will get a response from those when we stage senior games.
“I have been involved with senior cricket for 60 years, since I was 14, and this is as good a set-up as you will get in amateur cricket. It’s a great sport and Heywood Cricket Club is a great place to play it.”
Warren is confident that the first team can make a big impact in the coming season, but believes that there are spots up for grabs for some of the club’s emerging young talent.
He added: “Everybody knows that there is a gap for a batsman who could also fulfil the role of the side’s third seamer.
“I strongly believe that there are talented lads in their late teens who have been playing mainly in the second team who have the ability to make the step up.
“Dale Latham and Adam Fawcett could establish themselves in the first team this year. Then there are the likes of Andy and Simon Dawson, Tom Blundell and Wes Hunt, and the dark horse could be Chris Booth.
“But do they want to do it? Are they going to practice hard and be dedicated? Those are the challenges.”
Warren is also looking to the club’s youth teams to continue the supply line of young talent from the established Under-11s, Under-13s, Under-15s and Under-18 sides.
They have been supplemented this year by the formation of an Under-Nines team coached by Kate Cross, who is currently in South Africa with the England women’s squad.
“I think this is a brilliant idea and the response to the first outdoor coaching session for that age group was good,” said Warren.
“Kate is the ideal person to be in charge and she will get a response from the kids. She has been in the Lancashire Academy for some years and is now with the England squad, so she can bring all that she has learned down to Heywood.
“But our youth set-up is not just about Kate. We now have several qualified coaches at the different age levels, and this is an ideal place for boys and girls to come and learn to play cricket in a safe environment.”
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