Lancaster captain Simm relishing higher stakes after league link-up

Ben Simm. Picture: Tony North
Ben Simm. Picture: Tony North

Ben Simm is well aware how much is at stake ahead of his Lancaster side beginning their Northern Premier League season at St Annes on Saturday.

As the team that finished bottom of the table last year, the Lune Road men would have been relegated to the Palace Shield under the new link-up established over the winter.

Despite the threat of demotion, Simm hopes the move is the start of bigger and better things for cricket in the county.

“It should make the back end of the season more interesting, especially this season, because no-one wants to be the first club relegated from the Northern League,” said the off-spinner.

“Longer term hopefully it will lead to something bigger in Lancashire, more of a pyramid structure.

“Then you have the top teams playing the top teams in the county like you have in rugby.”

Simm believes higher stakes will bring more out of his side who as well as targeting improved league form are desperate to lift a trophy.

Last season’s Readers Cup final defeat to Netherfield was the latest in a long line of near misses for Lancaster.

“Obviously we want an improvement,” said the skipper.

“There’s more to play for this season and hopefully it will make us more consistent.

“We’ve tended to get off to flying starts and then as we’ve lost games some of the lads have lost interest.

“We’ve gone well in cups recently too and really want to win a trophy.

“I think all the lads are sick of being the bridesmaids and not the bride.

“I’ve got about 10 runners-up medals.”

Their cause will be helped by the addition of Kasun Madushanka, the Sri Lankan professional having recently been part of his national side’s test squad.

“We’ve got a bit of a bigger budget this year so we’ve been shopping in the same shops as everyone else and not in Poundland.” Simm said with a smile.

“He’s been in the test squad and everyone has spoken pretty highly of him.

“He’s one of the best young cricketers in Sri Lanka and has had a good first class season. He knows what it’s like to mix it with the best.

“It’s good to have a proven quantity rather than someone you’re hoping is going to come off.

“We’re confident he’s going to win some games for us.”

The all-rounder will be missing from the first two games but Simm is pleased with how things are shaping up from top to bottom ahead of the new season.

“Everything’s going well and we’re feeling pretty positive,” he said.

“There’s been no major changes or shake-up and things are going well.

“We’re benefitting from having a new coach in Brian Phillips and big Luke Phillips is going to be the second team captain.

“It’ll be good to have a young and old feel to the second team with some of the more experienced guys involved.

“Scott Sparks is back too and he’s a good guy to have around the club and a good cricketer.”