Enfield skipper Adam Bracewell says pro Werner Coetsee has brought some discipline to a young side – and they hope this will lead to cup success.
The South African was at Dill Hall Lane last season as Enfield finished eighth but has returned this season hoping to make an even bigger mark, with the club earmarking the cup competitions.
Last season the 29-year-old finished on 751 runs and 74 wickets. This season he has 322 runs so far, including an unbeaten 127, and has 29 wickets – returning his best of 7-23 in Monday’s win over local rivals Accrington.
"We are a young side," said 28-year-old capain Bracewell (pictured). "My brother David is the old man of the side at 32 – and the grumpy one! – and we are relatively young team who likes a laugh.
"So it’s good to have someone who comes in and gets your mind back on cricket.
"Like any South African, he wants to win and he definitely earns his money on and off the field.
"He works on fielding and general cricket awareness with us and is continually pushing everyone, trying to get them to improve."
The top two – Lowerhouse and Church – have opened a bit of a gap at the top although there are only seven league games gone in the season with three of the five fixed dates already filled up.
Bracewell’s side sit fifth but he admitted that the cup games were always something they have their eyes on from the start of the new campaign.
Luckily they got a bye in the first round of the Worsley Cup – along with Church – and they now travel to East Lancs tomorrow in their second-round clash.
"That’s massive for us and it’s something we are all really excited about," said the captain.
"We said at the start that we would push on in the league and try our best and enjoy ourselves but the Twenty20 and the Worsley Cup were something we definitely felt we could do well in.
"If we beat East Lancs tomorrow – although it will be a tough as their pro Ockert Erasmus is doing well – then we are in the semi-finals and who knows what will happen. But we are quietly confident."
Enfield won the Twenty20 in 2007 – the second year of the running of the competition – but you have to go back to 1991 for a Worsley Cup win and 1977 for a league crown.
The ‘Hyndburn’ Twenty20 Group A is competitive. Enfield face Rishton tonight in only their second game in the competition with the battle for top spot on.
Only the three group winners are guaranteed a place in the last four with the last one being decided on points scored and possibly run rate.
"It is important to finish top," said the skipper. "We would love to get to a final this year and we would fancy ourselves in the knock-out stages but it’s all about getting through at the moment.
"Rishton were unlucky to lose to Church in the league on Monday so we know it will be a tight game against them."
Looking back at Monday’s derby clash – after Sunday’s fixtures disappeared in the rain – Bracewell felt they got a lucky break with the toss against Accrington.
"It was a damp, green wicket and we would have bowled anyway so I was quite pleased, after Accrington won the toss, that they decided to bat.
"There were shorter boundaries so I expected a high scoring game so was quite shocked when we got them out for 76."
Coetsee took seven wickets with the prize capture of Accrington paid man Ashar Zaidi for 11. Aijaz Shah top-scored with 14 for Accrington in a rare off-day for their batting line-up, missing Graham Lloyd.
After taking the first wicket with just six on the board, Accrington would have felt some hope but Coetsee then made 32 to get his side home after just 21.2 overs and with just four wickets down.
"Werner has played brilliantly for us, especially in the last few games," continued the captain.
"We started off the season really well with two great wins but then we have lost our way a little bit but hopefully we are back on track."
Accrington will be disappointed with only the second league loss of their season although they are still in contention for all three trophies – they travel to Nelson tomorrow in the Worsley Cup, a competition they won in 2008 at Todmorden.
Church are the team chasing unbeaten leaders Lowerhouse at the moment – but Rishton ran them close on Monday’s derby.
Rishton were depleted with some of the players at Shaun Hutchinson’s wedding in Scotland but still they were unlucky to be on the losing end.
Blackburn Road pro Daniel Salpietro made 65 with Abdul Biswoodall (34) and captain-for-the-day Craig Smith (26) taking the score to 169 all out in their innings. Church pro Saeed Anwar – the paid man when Rishton won the title in 2007 – claimed six of the wickets.
Despite losing early wickets of Levi Wolfenden (one) and captain Craig Fergusson (eight), Anwar (45) and Lloyd Aspin (44) took the score from 26-2 to 89 before the third wicket fell.
Then Salpietro (3-69) and Ali Sartaj (4-58) got to work and Church were struggling at 142-9 and needing 28 to win.
That was until wicketkeeper Sam Tucker dug deep for an unbeaten 20 , alongside Maz Mehmood (nine no), which guided Church to a one wicket left as they remain second in the league. Church have a home draw with Haslingden in the Worsley Cup tomorrow after welcoming East Lancs tonight in the Twenty20.
Rishton are out of the Worsley Cup but travel to Enfield tonight in the Twenty20 before a trip to Todmorden in the league on Sunday, as they look to build on their three wins so far.