Spen Victoria’s star all-rounder Grant Lambert will miss the last five matches of the season.
Lambert has been given a contract by top Australian state side New South Wales and will head home to prepare for the new season Down Under after the match against Gomersal on Saturday, August 11.
The man who re-wrote the Bradford League batting records last season when he scored 1,683 runs and hit seven centuries is one of 18 players contracted by New South Wales who also have nine stars – including Steve and Mark Waugh, Michael Slater – centrally contracted to the Australian Cricket Board.
It’s a great breakthrough for Lambert who finished top of both the batting and bowling averages last season when Spen Victoria won promotion from Division Two.
Lambert, who plays Grade A cricket in Australia with Liverpool Fairfield, said: “I am very pleased to be given the contract. I haven’t played first class cricket yet but I hope I can force my way into the team. I will be going back next month to join the squad for training . It is going to be a really big challenge for me.”
Lambert will be sorely missed by Spen. This is his third season with them and he has already scored 592 runs and taken 31 wickets. His absence for the final weeks of the season will certainly hit them. “We will have to try and get a few more wins and get some points before he goes,” said skipper Steve Bethel.
Spen cricket chairman Bill Garside confirmed that Lambert will not be returning to the club. He said: “He has been a marvellous player for us and we will effectively need to sign two men to replace him.
“Grant has done wonders for this club. He is both a great new-ball bowler and a superbly consistent opening batsman.”
Tomorrow Spen are at home to fellow promoted team Undercliffe. Both clubs have gone a long way towards towards achieving their survival objective with Undercliffe, who won the Second Division championship last year, two points ahead of Spen on 44 points thanks to four wins in a row under new captain Martin Kellaway.
Undercliffe will be without batsman John Sadler for both matches in the double weekend because he is playing with Yorkshire under-19s and also off spinner Richard Dawson if Yorkshire pick him for the Roses match at Headingley.
Dawson took five for 14 in Undercliffe’s 105-run win against Yeadon last week and Kellaway said: “Richard bowled exceptionally well. He is a class player and Yorkshire know that. He aspires to play for them. Good luck to him.”
Both clubs face stern tests on Sunday, when Undercliffe are at home to leaders Pudsey Congs while Spen visit second placed Baildon.
Kellaway plays down his influence on the side. “We have a lot of good players, who have come into form,” he said. “And we are playing well as a side. We are scoring runs all the way down the order which we were not doing earlier in the season, but the visit of Pudsey Congs will be a test of our newly found form.
“They beat us earlier in the season and it would be nice to give them a bit more of a test.”