Season Preview Greater Manchester Cricket League
Monday 15th April 2019 @ 11:18 by Mark Phillip

Easter Saturday sees the start of the Greater Manchester Cricket League and there’s plenty of evidence on social media that it promises to be an entertaining and competitive campaign. In the Tameside and Glossop area there are 11 clubs participating in the Saturday competitions across the range of Divisions. 

Flixton will be looking to retain their title in the Premier Division, and locally, after Denton West suffered relegation last year, there is only Denton St Lawrence who will be challenging them. DSL have brought in Neil Hornbuckle as pro. The South African turned out for Milnrow in the Lancashire League last year, and arrives at Sycamore Park with a decent record in 1st class cricket. Adam Hawley leads the team and will be looking to improve on last years 7th place and he is joined by Matt Sonczak who returns to the area after a season away having previously played at Glossop. They start the campaign with a trip to Flixton which will give a good indication of their potential this time round. 

In Division 1A relegated Denton West will be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking. Pro Semile Seyibokwe returns after a season away at Heyside and he is joined by Hamish Dunlop and Jordan Williams who also return to Windsor Park. Max Cole has taken up the captaincy and it is hard not to see West challenging for the title. Across town Denton will be looking to build on last season’s mid-table placing and they start off with a home game against Unsworth who struggled last year in Division 1B and avoided the drop by a single place. Glossop have also been moved from Division 1B where they finished mid-table last year, which may have been a slight disappointment as they looked to return to the Premier Division after relegation in 2017. They host Moorside at North Road on Saturday. Mike Burns has stepped down as pro at Flowery Field but will stay at Throstle Bank Street where he will continue his opening bowling partnership with Mike Finan which was so productive last year. The paid man this season is Mangoliso Mohsele. The South African arrives with an impressive record in domestic cricket and has played 7 T20 internationals for South Africa. He is a hard hitting batsman and wicket-keeper and is somewhat of a coup for Flowery who start the season with a trip to promoted Austerlands. 

Dukinfield stay in Division 1B after a mid-table finish last season and start with a home game against Moorisde. They welcome Zimbabwean Ernest Masuku to Higher King Street. He will certainly bring some strength to the attack and looks more than capable of contributing with the bat as well. Droylsden will enter the season with confidence after their all-conquering Championship campaign last year when they won 19 of their 22 games. The move up will be a challenge for them and they have the chance to see how they match up this weekend when they host Whalley Range who were in the promotion hunt until the last week or so of the season, eventually finishing 4th in Division 1A. Stayley had a desperately poor start in 2018 losing their first 9 games but recovered well to easily maintain Division 1 status. They have recruited Pakistani Munir ur Rehman as pro and added Australian pace bowler Sacheen Pramesh as overseas amateur. Peter Skuse remains as skipper and he will be looking to get off to a good start when Greenmount come to Oxford Street this weekend. 

A tier lower in Division 2A the area is represented by Micklehurst in Division 2A and Ashton in Division 2B. Both teams struggled last year, and Ashton were reprieved from relegation after the uncertainty surrounding Hollinwood. Evicted from their ground last year there were doubts as to whether the Oldham club would continue. They appear to have survived but will be turning out in Division 5 this time round. Both Micklehurst and Ashton will be looking to further develop their active junior sections as they look to build for the future. Ashton start with a home game against Denton West 2nd XI, after a busy winter which has seen a complete revamp of the clubhouse which 

followed on from the construction of a nets facility last year. James Edmondson, who previously played at Edgworth is 1st XI captain. Micklehurst have also been busy with clubhouse renovations and skipper Jonny Forrester will be looking for a positive start as they travel to Elton. 

In Division 4 East Ashton Ladysmith were hit by vandalism at their ground a couple of weeks ago. The Reporter headlined the damage that had been done and it will be a race against time to get the square ready for the season opener against Newton Heath on Saturday. 

Reporter Sport will bring all the news from the GMCL as the season progresses.

By Martin Frost