HEYWOOD are looking forward to a second try in the Greater Manchester Premier Cricket League, starting at home to Flixton on Saturday, April 21, after winning back promotion to the top flight. Steve McHugh asked 32-year-old skipper Travis Townsend to give his views, in a question-and-answer session, on the side’s prospects over the coming months.
You took over as captain towards the end of last season. Did you enjoy it and are you looking forward to being at the helm this time around?
Captaining Heywood Cricket Club is an honour. So, when the opportunity to lead the side arose, I was delighted to take on the responsibility. The Premier League is a very competitive division and having the opportunity to lead us into battle is exciting given how passionate our players and supporters are about Heywood Cricket Club.
What areas of the side are you particularly looking to improve?
I thought we were excellent with the ball last year and in the field. Our batting, especially in pressurised situations, will need to improve as this season will be more competitive than last. Top order runs are crucial to building big scores, but I have always felt that matches are often won with runs down the order. If we can show the right mentality in tight situations then hopefully we will be on the right side of results this season.
This is Heywood’s second attempt in the Greater Manchester Premier League, after being relegated in the inaugural season. What lessons do you think the side needs to have learned?
I think everyone from Heywood perhaps underestimated the strength of the competition. We will be going into this season with our eyes open and maintaining the right level of intensity throughout the season will be key. Heywood lost quite a few games by small margins in 2016 and we will be doing our utmost to ensure that those results aren’t repeated.
One of the problems that has surfaced in recent years seems to be almost never playing with a settled side, and being forced to make multiple changes each week. How do you view this?
It’s a difficult one to answer as, although cricket plays a massive part of our lives, we need to understand that unfortunately there are other factors that will affect availability. I feel confident that some of the younger players are ready to step up if a space becomes available and the senior ranks have been boosted by Tom and Riley’s arrivals. The First XI will need to rely on more than 11 players if we are to be a successful group this year.
Riley Paterson has returned to the Club for at least this season, and his fellow Melbourne area clubmate Tom McQuinn is joining him. An obvious question, but are you hopeful that these two Australians can make a difference?
Having Tom and Riley join the club this season is a big boost for everyone on and off the field. They will have a positive effect at training, bring added skills to our team and provide that never-say-die Australian attitude. I just hope that they leave their sandpaper at home! All jokes aside, we are really looking forward to having them and hopefully we can make 2018 a memorable season.
Have you set yourself any targets, on both a personal and team level?
I have. Last year I contributed to a lot of wins, but I would like to take more responsibility this coming season and get bigger scores. Finding the right balance between responsibility and freedom is always the challenge of being Pro or a Captain. From a team perspective, last year we showed what a good side we could be at that level by our performances in the Cups. If we could finish in a Lancashire knockout position in the league and have another good run in the Cup then I would view that as a successful return to the top flight, but in saying that anything can happen. We will be doing everything in our power to win every competition we enter and, given the results in the Premier league from last season, you can see how competitive the league is. Teams who came first and second in 2016 finished near the bottom of the league last season and promoted teams finished in the top half.
Heywood’s support, both home and away, is the envy of many clubs. Have you a message for them?
I know the players are incredibly appreciative of the support we receive and I hope that if we get a good batch of weather we can have some fantastic days at Crimble this season. The supporters play a big role on match day and, although it is cliche, when they get behind us they really are our 12th man.
- None Found