Ashington skipper Williams net setting his side a title target

Ashington Cricket Club’s first XI skipper Greg Williams has played down his side’s quest for championship honours.

He is instead taking a low key approach on the eve of the new Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League, scheduled to get under way on Saturday (April 18).

The Colliers, who start with a trip to face Lanchester in a fixture which is an identical opener to last season, finished the last campaign as runners-up.

But a cautious Williams said: “Our target will be the same – to finish in the top four.

“A few teams have strengthened so it will be just as hard a league, if not more difficult, as last year.”

Williams will go in against the Durham-based club with a full strength squad, which includes overseas player Anirudh Singh and Paul Rutherford, who has returned to the club from Bedlington.

“Ani didn’t arrive in time to play at Lanchester last term,” he added.

“But he is coming over this week and it’s a bonus having him and Paul available for the opening game.

“The pair give us the option of having two front line spinners, which we haven’t had for a long time, and although we have good seamers, the spinners can bog teams down.”

Pace bowler Callum Storey, who won last year’s Player of the Year award, and batsman Jack Jessop will go into Saturday’s contest in good shape, according to the skipper.

Williams said: “Both have been on pre-season tours with their respective universities.

“Daniel Grant scored 80 for us in our friendly against Backworth on Saturday when it was a big bonus to see the bowling performances from Craig Wood and Peter Finch along with Matty Collins, who is well on his way to full fitness.”

Ashington seconds begin their defence of the B1 title at home to Lanchester seconds.

Meanwhile, long-serving batsman Michael Levison has linked up with Bedlington, newly promoted to the A1 division of the NTSL this term and who face champions Tynedale at Hirst Head on Saturday, whilst medium pacer Graham Whitworth has joined the Northern.