Ian Farrington: Leyland Cricket Club chairman looking forward to a normal season

Leyland chairman Ian Farrington is delighted that amateur cricket is returning to normality after three years of pandemic-caused disruption to the sporting calendar of most North West cricketing sides.

Over the last two years Leyland have tried to bring overseas professionals in to bolster their 1st XI, who play in the Northern Premier League – which is the highest cricketing league on the amateur circuit.

The year before COVID caused global havoc, Leyland 1st XI won the Northern Premier League title in 2019 finishing on 249 points, 13 clear of Garstang who ended up in second place.

However, in the two years that have followed after their title win Leyland have struggled to recapture that form and in the shortened 2020 campaign, they lost to Fulwood & Broughton in the level 1 Gold Playoff by six wickets.

Last season season threw up more challenges for the club as they couldn’t get over a South African professional due to quarantine restrictions, so Leyland had to bring in Sri Lanka’s Saliya Saman as a reserve overseas professional and Saman featured 13 times scoring 316 runs at an average of 39.50, whilst also picking up 17 wickets in that time.

“These last few years have been difficult for the club as a whole”, Farrington said.

“It’s well documented that our first team have struggled without having an overseas pro to help the senior and younger players develop.

“Last year we brought in Saman as an overseas professional in May and before he arrived, the 1st XI were toying with relegation and with his help the first team stayed up and finished seventh in the Northern Premier League.”

For the first time in over two-years, Leyland announced in January that they had secured the services of Pakistan cricketer Nasir Nawaz as their overseas professional for the upcoming 2022 campaign and Farrington is delighted to have secured the 23-year-old batting all-rounder’s signature.

“We signed Nasir as he came with a glowing reference from one of our former players, Umar Waheed and of course after a couple of years without having an overseas pro this feels like a pre-pandemic season.”, Farrington added.

“I am delighted that during his season with us, Nawaz will help with coaching and training sessions to help develop the skills of other cricketers across our adult teams – which will be beneficial for all our members as the campaign progresses.”

New recruit, Nawaz represents the Northern area in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy at domestic level in Pakistan and most recently he was drafted in for Alex Hales in the Pakistan Super League as he played for Islamabad United – who reached the play-offs and saw their campaign ended by Lahore Qalandars at the semi-final stage of the 2022 edition.