It may be late in the close season but Liverpool have again displayed their determination to win promotion this year by signing the slow left-arm bowler, Peter Kelly, from Sefton Park and Liverpool University’s wicketkeeper-batsman, Harry Cross, from Upton.
The two players join Australian left-arm seamer Jackson Burns as rookie skipper Matt Jackson’s new faces for 2017, and with the highly-rated Henry Charlton also available for the whole summer, the Aigburth side should be installed as one of April’s favourites to secure a passage out of the bottom tier of the Liverpool Gin Liverpool Competition.
While Cross is clearly a valuable acquisition who will take the gloves worn at times by Chris Tonge in 2016, most discussion around the Comp may centre on Kelly’s decision to leave Sefton Park, for whom he took 51 wickets last season. Instead of playing in the ECB Premier League, which he would have been doing had either of Southport and Birkdale’s last pair missed a straight one in the final game of last season, Kelly has taken the decision drop a division and join his old mate Jackson at Liverpool.
“Yes, if things had gone differently last September, I wouldn’t have been making the call I made a few weeks ago but Pete is a very big signing for us,” said Jackson.
“He and I were captain and vice-captain of our Liverpool schools Under 11 cricket team and it seems we’ve been playing cricket together for ever. Last time he played in this division he took 80 league wickets and we want to make him the main man. We think that will be good for him and good for us.
“However, I want to stress that the Sefton Park skipper, Richie Forsyth, has wished both Peter and myself all the best. I rang Richie as soon as I knew this was a possibility and there’s been absolutely no animosity between the clubs regarding this matter.”
“As to his role I’ve simply told Peter that I want him to bowl us out of this division. This year I think we have a great balance to our side because our other slow bowler, the off-spinner Jared Clein, is only 16 years old and it’s a big ask to rely on him to do the only spinner’s job. Spinners bowl you out of the Second Division and Pete will really help Jared.”
However, winning promotion is only the first stage of the Jackson Plan at Liverpool, a club many have seen as something of a slumbering giant in recent years.
“I don’t see getting out of the Second Division as the end of things as far as this side is concerned,” said the new skipper. “I’ve got high hopes for what is very young team and certainly the best balanced one in my time at Liverpool.”
However, Jackson’s plans for the first few weeks of the campaign will be hampered by the fact that Sam Holliday is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and may not be fit to bowl until May.