Moorlands Cricket Club will be looking to challenge Hoylandswaine for the Huddersfield Cricket League title again this year but club stalwart Andrew Fortis insists that securing their league status is the first priority.

Fortis, who runs the cricket side of the club, is determined to see the Mirfield-based club improve both on and off the field. 

Having won the Sykes Cup and T20 competition last year, the first team couldn’t catch eventual champions Hoylandswaine. Winning the title would be great but that’s not the immediate target, according to Fortis.

“Our main aim, as daft as it seems, is to avoid relegation,” he said. “This season three teams can be relegated and so it’s going to be a real dog fight to stay in the division.

“Yes, we want to be challenging at the top of the table but, I’ll be honest, the first priority is to make sure we stay up and have Premiership cricket at Moorlands in 2023. 

“An improvement on last year would be to win a Premiership title, but that’s a huge task. If you start fast by winning games and are up there in that top four after six to eight games you know it’s going to be a good season.”

Moorlands lost their first match of the season last weekend to Kirkburton and Fortis is only too keenly aware of how a big club can struggle, as was the case with Shepley last season. 

He said: “We were big advocates of having less teams in the league. Having less players should improve the standard of cricket played and ultimately make the table closer and more competitive.

“Look at last year, Shepley struggled right up until the last few weeks and normally they are one of the top teams. So I think everyone bar Hoylandswaine will be thinking about just securing their status in the league first of all.”

Despite Moorlands winning two cups and finishing second in the league, Fortis would like to see more consistency this campaign. 

He said: “I think we need to win some games early doors and get off to a quick start. 

Andrew Fortis in action

“Consistency is key in anything, and we didn’t have as much of that as we would have liked last year. It all depends on the lads on a Saturday afternoon. You have to be consistent even in those games that you might not be up for as much, no offence to any team, but there are some games you get up for more than others.

“When you go to the likes of Hoylandswaine, Shepley and Scholes you are up for it as you are playing against big clubs that tend to be up there all the time. However when you visit a side that isn’t up there that’s when complacency creeps into people’s games.” 

The one club man believes Moorlands have a deeper squad this season and said: “I think we are stronger on paper than at this point last year. We have got two great Australian lads joining the team that should make us stronger. 

“I think everyone has got stronger in the winter period which should make the league a lot harder.”

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Finally, Fortis has been delighted with how the club has got through the last two difficult years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He says that more people are visiting the club than before. 

“We’ve been busy on and off the field,” he said. “We have made improvements to the ground including having our artificial training pitch 99% completed. 

“Now that there is less restrictions around Covid-19 we are hoping to see more and more people use the facilities whether on a match day or through the week. 

“I don’t know what it’s been like for other clubs but since coming out of Covid we have noticed more local people coming into the club. The social events we hold have certainly been busier which is great and helps us financially. The events we put on are a vital part to keeping the club running.”