After catching up with the new pro Ocki on Friday (read more here), Paul also had a few questions for the incoming skipper Ben Heap.
Hi Ben. Whilst you’ve captained Lowerhouse on occasions, this will be your first stint as full time skipper. When was the last time you captained a side for a full summer?
It’s been a long time since I’ve captained a side for a full summer. I was under 17’s LHCC captain in a very successful junior side. Also I was captain of the under 16’s North East Lancashire Festival squad in my final year with that side. A very talented one at that with both Tripathi’s, John Simpson, Neil Thompson and one or two others.
You could say though that being a club professional is also similar to being captain so my season at Padiham should have a bit of relevance but not all decisions were mine of course.
I think your famous Uncle shied away from captaincy but I suspect you’ll relish it. Am I right?
Yes that’s right, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time now. I’m looking forward to the season and I feel a sense of calmness now I have my chance to be captain.
You’re known as being not shy about having a bit of banter with the opposition. Will that change in any way now you’re in charge? and do you have a line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour?
I think it will change slightly, I think some people will be surprised. I’ll never shy away from a word or two but my main focus is on winning the game.
There is definitely a line and I in the past have probably over stepped it in terms of opposition players, but more often than not in retaliation to something else. I will always have that edge to me. Sticking up for each other as a team is something I’m a big believer in, whether they are in the right or wrong = that can be dealt with after the game.
I think you’re very much your own man but you’ll have an experienced pro’ and senior players around you. How much do you see yourself leaning on others until you’re settled in the new role?
No doubt I will go to others for advice or a different opinion quite often, it keeps the mind healthy having people thinking differently to yourself. But I’m confident in my self and the experienced guys are clever enough to know how to voice there ideas in the right way and do things through me. So that will allow me to make the final call and I’ll be able to look at my self in the mirror and move on if I should get a decision wrong.
If Ladbrokes ran a book on the top amateur batter for Lowerhouse in 2017, you’d be the hot favourite. Do you think the cares of captaincy could affect your batting form in any way?
No, not at all. whenever I’ve been in charge before I’ve always done ok. So I think it will bring out the best in me.
The ‘House will be competing in 4 competitions in a busy summer of cricket. The League, the Worsley Cup, T-20 , and the Lancashire Cup. Will you have priorities or going all out in each competition?
The league is always the priority to me and I think it’s the same for most sides. The other three are equally as important and I’ll be looking to compete in all of them.
Lowerhouse have been fortunate to pick up some very decent recruits in the off-season. There should be good competition for places. Where do you stand on the preference of a settled team or rotation based on current form?
Myself and Joe Beneduce who is our 1st XI selector will look to pick the strongest team for each individual game. Balance of the side will be key because as you say we’ve signed a couple and on paper it looks strong. We may take some time to gel under a new regime as well so I ask for patience from fans and spectators.
Do you think Lowerhouse have to win a minimum of one trophy for the season to be regarded as a success?
One trophy would be a success absolutely. We’re a new squad and it may take some time for people (not just new signings) to get used to there new roles. We are looking to build and improve as a squad at training looking forward to the next five years or so, the new signings are not just a short term fix.
I must admit I was looking forward to you and Bharrat Tripathi competing as rival skippers. That won’t happen now but are you especially looking forward to the ‘derby’ games against a strong Burnley side.
Always look forward to the Burnley games, they’ve had the upper hand the last two seasons or so. So be nice to try and take the 12 points of them more than anything else.
Your first season as skipper coincides with the start of the Lancashire League reform plan. Are you in favour of where the League wants to go with their plans?
Yes definitely! No disrespect to anyone but having dead rubbers in June can’t be good for anyone.you need some competition for the whole season. Pride is always at stake of course. But if relegation / promotion is a threat then that means players are more committed (I think) and brings in more excitement for spectators.
Finally Ben I told Ocki that I had a bee in my bonnet about the rules regarding bad weather. I gather that he doesn’t like them either. He says rightly that they can give a big advantage to the team batting second. At other times a team batting second pacing themselves to an easy win can get caught out as we almost were versus Colne last season. Do you have any strong feelings on the rules as they stand.
Yes I agree , it’s not ideal and needs looking at. Who what where and when though I’ve no idea. We as a committee want Duckworth Lewis.
Thanks again to Paul for posing the great questions and Ben for taking time to answer them.