Richard Robinson believes youngster Freddie Pearson can be successful as the new Keighley captain.
The 20-year-old has taken over from the JCT600 Bradford League’s all-time highest run-scorer as the Lawkholme Lane side start their Division Two campaign at Gomersal on Saturday.
Pearson (pictured) was due to be vice-captain under Robinson but the all-rounder has picked up a shoulder injury which he means he might not be able to play all the time.
The opening batsman has therefore been elevated to the helm and has been backed to succeed despite his young age.
Robinson said: “He has captained the Joe Lumb side and also captained our under-25s to the Keighley Cup triumph last season.
“He has done it before and there are some experienced players in there who can back him up.”
On relinquishing his skipper’s role due to his shoulder injury, the 43-year-old added: “It’s wear and tear but something I can’t get right until the winter. I’m still hoping to play but this is just in case.”
After losing Ross Towler (retirement), Matthew Bottomley (moving to London) and Imran Patel (signed for Spen Victoria), Keighley have signed a number of key recruits during the off-season.
Former captain Mark Beckett is back at Lawkholme Lane, having joined from Aire-Wharfe neighbours Harden along with batsman Richard Wear.
Beckett is set to open the innings with Pearson, while Australian overseas signing Andrew King, who has just arrived from Victoria-based club Elsternwick, is set to add pace to the bowling attack.
After finishing eighth last season, Robinson admits Keighley under-achieved and is looking for improvement this year, with promotion the aim.
He said: “Last year we did poorly. We were a much better team than we showed. We lost six or seven on the trot and for the team we had, that was incredible.”
Robinson wants to see the club’s young players realise their full potential.
He said: “It’s a big year for players like Freddie, Joe Stead and Jonny Wilkinson.
“We want to see them take us up to Division One where they should be playing.”
Keighley seconds open their campaign at home to East Bierley.
Keighley teams for Saturday
First team v Gomersal AWAY: F. Pearson, R. Wear, R. Robinson, M. Beckett, J. Beetham, T. Stead, J. Wilkinson, A. King, J. Stead, M. Davidson, A. Hussain. Res: R. Towler. Meet: 11:15am
Second team v East Bierley HOME: A. Robinson, R. Wood, S. Reape, L. Chapman, A. Waggett, A. Birkett, S. Murphy, H. Quershi, B. Jagger, R. Towler, J. Roberts. Res: L. Horsfield. Meet: 11:45am.