Winter round up
Paul Edwards - Friday 8th December 2006

December is the month of optimistic wish-lists and the clubs in the Littlewoods Gaming Liverpool Competition who are able to make plans for the 2007 season seem as determined as ever not to be left out of it all. While one or two teams are waiting for the dispute over Hightown's non-promotion to the Premier League to be sorted out before deciding on their recruitment strategies, others are already trying to secure the services of talented players, and a few have already made significant signings.

Ormskirk have persuaded the 18 year old Lancashire wicket keeper John Simpson to join them from Lancashire League side Haslingden and Brook Lane skipper Adam Waterhouse is confident of adding one or two more new faces before next April. "We are quite close to signing an overseas professional," said Waterhouse, "and I'd really like to sign another seamer but there's no one available."

Champions Bootle will also have a new wicket keeper next season when current middle order batsman Neil Williams takes over the gloves full time from the long serving Graeme Jones, but Ian Cockbain also expects to add one new player to the Wadham Road line up before his side begin the defence of their title. "I'm hoping there will be one fresh face, and Adam Warren's also coming back next summer," said Cockbain, "but family commitments mean that Gavin Reynolds will only be playing on Sundays and I'm also currently trying to coax John Hitchmough out of his decision to retire."

Despite losing seam bowler Andrew Miller to the Birmingham League, Northern have opted to add no new players to their youthful first team squad this winter, "I'm delighted to say that Francois Haasbroek is returning to Moor Park," said captain Phil Cooper, "and we are going to stick with the players we've got. They will be a little more experienced and a little bit wiser, and those qualities will stand us in good stead."

The last two seasons have seen Fleetwood Hesketh develop into one of the best teams in the Premier League but officials at Sea Cop are checking the season long availability of any possible high profile recruits before offering any contracts, "There are still a lot of players in contention for the overseas professional's job," said new skipper Neil Rimmer, "So far, only Matthew Cain has joined us from Formby."

In the past few years there has been no shortage of clubs wanting to sign the former Wigan captain Sean Casham, but the Highfield opening bat has decided to forsake the Liverpool Competition - for a few years at least - in order to take up a teaching post at St George's School just outside Buenos Aires. "Cricket is a growth sport in Argentina," said Casham, "and I understand that the MCC has paid for a new wicket at the school. Some of the other members of staff play in a local league but my decision means that I'll only be playing half a season at Highfield next summer."

However, it seems likely that no fixtures will be produced for the new season until the fate of Hightown is decided. The Management Committee has decided to give a delegation from the Sandy Lane club an opportunity to make their case in person at a meeting next Thursday (14th December) but it still appears unlikely that the First Division runners-up will let the matter rest if they are denied promotion, and a winter of general meetings, whether special or extraordinary, is in prospect. Cricket lovers on Merseyside could be forgiven for feeling underwhelmed at the prospect.   

(previously published in the Liverpool Daily Post)