Lichfield boosted as run-scorers make a welcome return

Lichfield have welcomed back a pair of key batsmen in time for the new South Staffs County League Premier Division campaign.

Craig Jennings batting for Hammerwich.
Craig Jennings batting for Hammerwich.

Stuart Fielding and Australian Riley Ward have returned for the season.

The team has seen no departures ahead of the season as they retained their first team stars.

Chairman Andrew Lightbown said: “They’re two lads who have had a massive impact in recent years. Riley was overseas six years ago and had a phenomenal season.

“He’s come back to Lichfield this season which is great and is back with Stuart and the nucleus of lads who have done so well for a long time now.

“The main thing for us was retaining what we had and building on it. We’re feeling positive and buoyant for the year.

“We’ll give it our best and we want to be at least hit top four.”

“We’ve also welcomed quite a few players to the second team, we had quite a young side and have recruited quite heavily there to give us something extra. That has been great.

“The main thing is to get back playing. We’ve been delighted with the response in training.

“All the lads have been available and there’s a real excitement about it. Riley and Stuart coming back has been a big part of that.

“This year will be tough. Tamworth have recruited very well, Milford will be strong.

We probably haven’t got quite enough to go all the way but we’ll be giving it a real go.”

Rugeley will be without Scott Gretton after the captain resigned ahead of the new cricket season.

As the South Staffs County League Premier Division is set to get underway the major change has been the only squad amendment for Rugeley.

Gretton has left for personal reasons and has been replaced as captain by all-rounder Jack Pryor.

Club secretary Stuart Talbot said: “Scott was heavily involved for a number of years and he wants to spend a bit more time with his family, as he has two young kids.

“He works five or six days a week too, so he wants to spend more time with his kids.

“It’s unfortunate and unfortunate timing. With Covid and the amount of restrictions, that hasn’t helped, and his enjoyment had waned to the point where the stress outweighed the enjoyment of the game.

“No-one else has left but we have no newcomers too, unfortunately. It’s been a strange time and people aren’t sure what kind of season we’ll have. Hopefully moving forward we’ll start to pick up some more players.”

“It’s going to be tough for the first team playing in the Prem because we haven’t had much time to practice.

“It will be a real test but one we’re looking forward to. We have some lads who have played for the England indoor team so we’re hoping they’ll come into their own.”

Laeq Chishti will lead from the front again at Penkridge.

The experienced Chishti continues as skipper but has seen his bowling options depleted by the departure of Kashif Hussian to Whitchurch.

Hammerwich have welcomed back a club favourite in time for the new season.

All-rounder Matt Deyzel has moved to Derbyshire Premier Division side Sandiacre Town, but with one leaving another has come in as Craig Jennings has returned to the team.

The all-rounder had decided to call time on his cricket but with the 2021 season ready to start he decided to come back and play.

After Hammerwich missed out on an unnamed overseas player due to coronavirus restrictions they have a relatively unchanged team and are ready to tackle the new campaign.

Captain John Jennings said: “We’ve not been depleted and Craig coming back for Matt is pretty much a like-for-like. We’re as we were really.”

“I’d be happy with lower mid-table but it depends how we start and if we beat the teams around us.

“The likes of Tamworth will be hard to compete with – Milford too.

“Other than that, I haven’t looked at what has come in and out at other sides.

“Everyone will be turning up hoping to win but getting out of the house will be a result in itself this season. We’re so happy to be back playing.”

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