ASHINGTON Cricket Club’s first XI skipper Michael Thewlis has sounded the battle cry as his outfit prepare for two titanic duels on home soil against Chopwell and Newcastle City in the next fortnight.
The Colliers are bidding to move away from the relegation zone of the Wellstream Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League.
Although “enormously heartened” despite Saturday’s defeat at Annfield Plain, Thewlis is aware that his side must now win a minimum of two matches if they are to have any chance of retaining A1 division status next term.
The reverse at Annfield Plain was a bitter pill to swallow but the Colliers only picked up three points whereas third from bottom Chopwell managed seven from defeat at home to basement club Newcastle City.
Consequently the gap between second bottom Ashington and the Tyne and Wear outfit has increased to 23 points, and could have been considerably more had Chopwell won last Saturday.
However, Thewlis will be looking for his side to continue their “level of improvement” when Chopwell arrive at Langwell Crescent this weekend.
“I was enormously hearted by our display against Annfield Plain,” said Thewlis.
“We’ve played well and shown a massive improvement on recent weeks with the bat.
“We’ve got ourselves into a position, by keeping wickets in hand to put the opposition under pressure in the final overs of our innings, and we’ve batted out our overs instead of trying to survive, and that should give us some confidence for the coming weeks.”
Thewlis singled out senior batsman Greg Williams for special mention.
He said: “Greg was brilliant today.
“He and Scott Dunn have been playing with broken fingers for the past month or so at a time when we are struggling as a team to get results but also struggling to put a team out.
“As a captain, I really appreciate that and it is a measure of the dedication to the club from both these players.
“Greg’s knock was superb. He anchored our innings, batting with real guts on a sporty track and against one of Durham County Cricket Club’s most consistent bowlers, Neil Killeen.
“It can be tempting to try and smash your way out of those situations rather than graft, but Greg understood the situation we were in and knuckled down.
“The rain came and robbed us of seven overs, but Greg came out after an hour’s break and took the attack to them and stroked ten from the first over back.
“This really set the tone for our last seven overs and meant we had something to bowl at.
“On the bowling front, Callum Storey continues to make good progress and was really impressive with the new ball.
“He was ably backed by Graham Whitworth and Scott Thornton, as well as James Richards, who is also improving week after week.
“But we’ll continue to work hard in training as we prepare to face Chopwell, and given the level of improvement, we look forward to Saturday.”
Simon Prudhoe and Craig Wood are poised to return whilst all rounder Stephen Boyd will have a fitness test.
However, young right handed batsman Andrew Gray is set to be sidelined for at least another fortnight as he recovers from a broken thumb.