Strong start for Saddleworth cricket teams in the GMCL

GREENFIELD are top of division 1A of the Greater Manchester Cricket League, a feat extra special bearing in mind it has been achieved without a professional.

The Ladd Hill Lane side is still waiting for the arrival of former West Indies Test star Devon Smith due to an ongoing issue over obtaining a visa.

Chris Gill, Greenfield’s captain last season, said: “It has been a nightmare. We were told it usually takes the Home Office 15 days to process a work permit, but we are still waiting after six weeks.

“Last year it took Devon three days to get a visa when he played in the Notts League.”

Greenfield have won five of their six league games to top the table.

And Gill believes they would have beaten premier division side Greenmount in the cup had Smith been available.

Clubs can only field deputy professionals if a player receives an international call or is injured.

Gill says the team is in a “good place” but added it has not been tested.

“Most of the teams we have played are mid or lower table so we still have to play most of the leading sides,” he explained.

Gill believes the fact all the former local Saddleworth League and Pennine League sides are doing well in the GMCL underlines the standard of cricket they once played.

Moorside are top of division 1B with Saddleworth in second spot while Uppermill are top of division 2B with Friarmere fourth.

Gill said: “The grounds we have played at are all good set-ups, but the standard of cricket is not as good as the Pennine League.

“We may have lovely settings in Saddleworth, but we are behind in terms of the size of grounds and how wickets play.

“We need better facilities, but at Greenfield we are catching up with roll-on covers and new changing rooms planned.”

UPPERMILL have won five of their first six league games – the other was abandoned –  to mount a serious promotion challenge in division 2B. They already hold a 13-point lead over Oldham.

And captain Andrew Jones says opponents have been complimentary about their team.

He said: “We couldn’t have wished for a better start and looked comfortable in all our games.

“We were put in this league and it is up to us to prove why we should be in a higher division.

“We should comfortably win this league – that in not being over confident or being disrespectful, but other teams have told us we are too good for this league.”

Jones added he is impressed by the structure of the GMCL adding all teams will find their true level within a couple of seasons.

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