Walsham aiming for solid season following promotion
Consolidation is Walsham-le-Willows Cricket Club’s major aim this season, but captain Liam Bryant is backing his team to dish out a bloody nose or two along the way.
It seemed that Walsham’s hopes of gaining promotion from Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division Four last term were dashed by their third-placed finish.
However, higher-league Exning’s merger with East Anglian Premier League side Burwell — and the subsequent departure of their teams from the Two Counties set-up — has elevated Walsham for the upcoming 2018 campaign.
Bryant’s main aim is to ensure Walsham remain at that level in 12 months time, but he also believes the squad has the ability to pick up some big results in the process.
“I would be happy to for us to stay in the division — this is a step up after all and anything more is a bonus,” said the skipper.
“A couple of our big players may miss some matches this season and that is not ideal.
“But I still feel the side we have is capable of giving any team in the division a game.
“We have had plenty of success in recent years and there is a lot of momentum with us, which you can never discount.
“Not that anyone will, but if we are treated like ‘little old Walsham’ we can cause a few upsets.”
It has been relatively quiet on the recruitment front at Walsham over the winter months.
Moving up a level could lead some captains to make sweeping changes to his squad, but Bryant has complete faith in the players that have helped the club rise up the Two Counties since joining in 2012.
“I only want players here if they really want to play for Walsham,” added Bryant.
“I have never been about chasing players. It is my belief that if they want to play for the club then they will do that.
“We are a very tight-knit group that has played together since the age of 14 or 15.
“A couple of players have previously played a bit higher for a spell, myself included (with Exning).
“But overall we are a local group that has achieved a lot together so we are planning to go with the group that got us here.”
Yet, for all of the positivity currently surrounding the club, when they step out for Saturday’s season-opener at Tuddenham (12.30pm) it will not be lost on the players that they are missing a key club member.
Josh Gilbert was a popular figure among the cricket fraternity at Walsham and his tragic death while playing rugby for Thurston last September hit the club hard.
“Josh was a big character and his death has left a big hole in the club,” said Bryant.
“Every club needs people like Josh. He would always stick his hand up to the jobs nobody else wanted to do.
“We miss him greatly and there is an element of wanting to do well for him this year.”
To celebrate Gilbert’s life, Walsham are planning a couple of events, one of which will be a four-team Twenty/20 tournament involving the cricket club, Walsham Football Club, Thurston Rugby Club and Bury Young Farmers Club on May 6.
The club is also helping to organise Bear’s Ball on September 15, with all proceeds going to Heart UK.