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WATCH Aaqib sets his sights on promotion
Wednesday 21st February 2018 @ 11:38 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Droylsden Cricket Club first team captain Aaqib Uppal has set his sights on promotion this season.

The former Ashton Sixth Form student will lead his side to battle with an opening day home clash against Werneth on Saturday, April 21, in the Greater Manchester Division Two A.

Aaqib, who has a longstanding allegiance to Droylsden, is confident that his side will use the disappointment of last season to fuel their bid for promotion this year. Speaking to Reporter Sport earlier this week, Aaqib said: “It was a good season, but at the end of it we were still disappointed that we didn’t manage promotion. Halfway through the campaign we were looking at challenging for the actual trophy, but due to injuries and some commitment issues, we were unable to push for promotion.

“We invested in two Australians – Greg and Nathan. One opened the batting and one opened the bowling, They both had good seasons, but there were a couple of players who would be quite happy to say they didn’t have the best of seasons, including myself, and we just didn’t seem to have enough to get us over the line.”

Having been an integral part to Droylsden’s squad last season, will the club be looking to recruit the same players for the forthcoming campaign? “With the addition of the Pennine League teams, we’ve made the decision not to pursue any over seas players this year” said Aaqib.

“We believe we’ve got enough in the ranks at the minute that will definitely help us challenge for promotion, if not the title as well.”

A self-proclaimed batsman, the 27-year-old has acquired his skills over many years at Droylsden.

He was introduced to the club by his sister as a youngster, and has since progressed through the junior teams to earn his title as first team captain.

An advocate of developing junior players, Aaqib says the production line is something to be proud of: “What you’ll find with Droylsden is that lot of the senior players have come through the youth ranks.

“You look at some other clubs and they have a brilliant first team but no junior set up. We like to do it a bit differently here. We promote from the juniors and although there are two or three players who won’t make it due to work commitments or other reasons, at least half of the current first team have come from the juniors.”

Droylsden will be competing against some quality sides this season, including Micklehurst 1st XI and Glossop 2nd XI. The formation of the Greater Manchester Cricket League has provided some much-needed competition for clubs over the past two years – a move lauded by Aaqib.

The only regret he has, however, is that the move didn’t happen years earlier. Commenting on the current situation in league cricket, Aaqib said: “I don’t think it’s suffering, but I think it’s due to the new league structures that have come in. When we were in the Saddleworth league, we had teams in the top that seemed to be spending quite a lot of money on players and you’d just know that you had no chance on competing for the league title. However, with the new Greater Manchester Cricket League, it’s a level playing field throughout the competition.

“It was a move that needed to happen, probably a few years before it actually did. It brings clubs together. There have been some people against due to the travelling, but if you want a competitive game of cricket then you’re going to have to travel for it.”

As well as working hard on the pitch, the club has been equally thorough off it. In a bid to increase revenue, the club has moved to source new sponsors for the forthcoming campaign. Aaqib thanked the companies that have come on board. He said: “We’ve signed deals with Alex Jones Sales and Letting. Bowden Cars Ltd will take sponsors on the front and back of our team ware

‘The Silly Country, a new pub opening in Droylsden, have also come on board, as well as Canine to Five, who will be our sleeve sponsors.”

“We’ve worked hard internally. Alex Cicchirillo has looked after the last man standing competition, which brought some much-needed funds into the club.

“We’ve also arranged a sponsored bike ride, taking place at the start of April from Droylsden to Headingley and back. That’s probably going to take its toll on a couple of our older players.”

A full video with Aaqib has been uploaded to the Tameside Reporter website.