KEIGHLEY CC skipper Simon Bailey has even become interim groundsman this season, as he and his team-mates try to help Lawkholme Lane become a fortress.

The firsts host Bradford District rivals Buttershaw St Paul’s there tomorrow in their third Gordon Rigg Bradford Premier League Division Two game of the season, looking for their second victory of the campaign.

They won their opener on home soil, beating Heckmondwike & Carlinghow by four wickets, but a batting collapse last weekend saw them lose at Altofts by 51 runs.

As Bailey revealed though, he could have an off-pitch impact on this weekend’s derby game.

He said: “Our groundsman Allan (Birkett) is recovering from knee replacement surgery, so me and my eldest son are helping out his lad (and fellow first-teamer) Dillon with preparing the pitch.

“I feel like I’m at the ground more than I’m at home at the moment, and the weather hasn’t helped the three of us, because we’ll try and prepare the pitch then it’ll rain and cause problems.”

But a more upbeat Bailey added: “It’s the same with anything, if you can make it so you have good home form, your away form will hopefully help itself.

“We have to make Lawkholme Lane a fortress and our home form is going to be key if we want to get promoted.”

Keighley News: Simon Bailey (bowling) knows just how important it is for Keighley to get their home form right this year.Simon Bailey (bowling) knows just how important it is for Keighley to get their home form right this year. (Image: Richard Leach.)

It has been a mixed start for Keighley, though again, Bailey believes the awful weather over the last few weeks has been a factor.

He said: “With your first three or four games of a season, it always takes a while to get back into the swing of things.

“You have to get that ring rust out of your system and get used to playing again.

“The weather hasn’t helped us either, as we’ve only had one outdoor net to have a bat in all year so far and given the forecast this week, it looks like we’ll be indoors again.”

Despite the lack of batting practice, a duo who have come through the ranks at the club, Noah Thirkill and Lucas Keslinke, were instrumental to that opening day win, putting on an unbroken 70 for the seventh wicket to seal victory.

Bailey enthused: “It’s a big thing, your seconds and your juniors at a cricket club.

“We’re getting our seniors to help the juniors progress because it’s the latter who’ll keep the club going in the future.

“Noah and Lucas were brilliant for us in that first week and the confidence they’ll get from that match-winning partnership will help them and the whole team.”

Daanyaal Ahmed took 7-22 earlier that day to dismiss Heckmondwike & Carlinghow for just 124, with Bailey saying: “Danny is an important player for us, but we can’t just rely on him, we have to help him out as a team.

“We’re lucky though because he’s one of the best spinners around, he’s experienced and he bowled brilliantly on that opening day.

“He was unlucky to only take one wicket at Altofts too, but you can always rely on him to tie up an end regardless.”

Ahmed could be key this weekend against Buttershaw too, with Bailey saying: “We’re excited for the game, but then we are for any home fixture.

“It gives us chance to put a show on for our fans and represent the town as best as we can.”