It has been success all the way for Illingworth captain Ben Robertshaw in his two years at the helm of the first team at The Ainleys.
The 28-year-old all-rounder has led the side to second and first division title successes since the former Aire/Wharfe League club’s return to the Spenser Wilson Halifax League after a gap of 98 years.
Newly arrived in the Premier, Illingworth could hardly have got off to a better start than Saturday’s nine-wicket home win over Shelf Northowram Hedge Top.
Robertshaw is expecting the going to get tougher and it will be very much a learning curve as Illingworth go on their travels, starting at Sowerby St Peter’s this weekend.
“It was a very good start,” said Robertshaw. “Their captain said they had a few players missing but we did as well.
“We got a few early wickets and that got our confidence up.”
Robertshaw said Illingworth would be hoping to mount a strong challenge towards the top of the Premier. “We’re aiming for the top four and anything else will be a bonus.”
There is also the customary captain’s requirement for a decent cup run. Illingworth’s Parish Cup campaign starts with a juicy derby fixture at Bradshaw on Sunday, May 12.
Robertshaw’s optimism is perhaps checked by the fact that Illingworth haven’t an overseas amateur this year.
Last year’s import Dan Murfet might not go on to have quite the same success as his countryman Stuart Law, who went on to play one Test and 54 One Day Internationals for Australia after leaving the North Halifax club, but he still leaves a big hole to fill in the batting order.
Murfet won the league’s middle-section batting averages by a country mile last summer with 1009 runs at 77.62.
Robertshaw said Illingworth’s remaining batsmen would have to step up and Callum Cook and Liam Kelly did just that last Saturday with a big stand.
llingworth have an experienced and successful new ball pair in Luke Brooksby and Jamie Moorhouse. Robertshaw had to manage without first change bowler Ben Clarke last Saturday, when other absentees were Brighouse Town footballer Matty Smith and middle order batsman Hamza Mehmood.
THE FIRST Division programme starts at the weekend, as does the Halifax Sunday League in which Golcar will make their debut at home to Sowerby St Peter’s in Division Three.
Blackley II, another new team, are expected to field a team of youngsters with two or three older heads at Slaithwaite.
The withdrawal of Thornton means Blackley now have a bye in the first Rod Warhurst Cup group games.