Jer Lane will create a little bit of history in April when they step out to debut in the Bradford Premier Division at their new Park Avenue home.
For it is half a century since top flight Bradford League cricket was last played at the iconic venue.
This summer Jer Lane’s first team have moved across town, swapping grounds with Omars from the Bradford Mutual Sunday School League.
The first team have just gained promotion from the BCL’s Conference – the equivalent of Division Three – to the Premier in the space of five seasons having moved from the Halifax League.
Saturday April 15 is definitely worth noting in the diary, a day they will begin the new summer by hosting Ossett.
In 1973, Bradford CC last played in the BCL at Park Avenue before moving leagues and later merging with Bingley. Park Avenue did continue to host Priestley Cup finals for a few years after that, but not league matches.
“It’s an exciting time for the club and everyone involved,” said first-team captain Raqeeb Younas.
“Park Avenue hosted international and county cricket back in the day, and it’s a place which comes with a lot of history. Going down and playing our league cricket there, we’ll be the envy of a lot of teams because it’s a beautiful, picturesque ground.
“A lot of hard work has gone in over the last couple of years to bring it up to scratch, and we can’t wait.
“The discussions started taking place a couple of years ago about the move.
“The ground where we were at (at Horton Bank Top), we weren’t sure whether it would match the expectations as we went up the levels.
“It’s a fairly small ground, and it was hard to captain there and attract bowlers to come and play for us.
“Getting batters to come was always easy because it’s one of the best wickets in the league.
“Fortunately, we pushed the right buttons, knew a few people who were playing there with Omars and they ended up swapping grounds with us.
“It’s just the first team who have hired out Park Avenue. The second team and the juniors will still play at Jer Lane along with Omars. Everything else will be the same.
“The agreement in place is that we can be there for as long as we want.
“I think everyone wants to see Premier Division Cricket at Bradford Park Avenue.
“So it is a big thank you to Omars, and also to everyone at Yorkshire who played their part in this as well. Nasa (Hussain), the groundsman there, he’s also been fantastic.”
Jer Lane are clearly a club on the up, and that extends beyond the buoyant first team.
“To be honest, we didn’t expect to be playing Premier Division cricket so soon,” continued batter Younas. “You could say we’ve exceeded expectations.
“I had an interview with the Bradford Telegraph and Argus early last season, and they asked me what we were hoping for. It was pretty much mid-table and consolidation.
“But the start we had was good, and once you start winning games the belief and momentum builds.
“The best thing about our side is that we’re never beaten. We could be eight down needing 90 and still win. That happened to us against Undercliffe.”
Younas’s first team saw Deron Greaves lead the way with 1,058 runs and Mohammad Jamal claim 43 wickets as they won 19 out of 22 league games to win Division One as champions from Pudsey Congs, who were also promoted.
But they are not resting on their laurels and have strengthened ahead of the step up.
“The last game of the season, we were probably caught cold with the celebrations. But it was nice to go into that with no pressure.
“There’s a massive bridge between the Premier Division and the one we’ve just come from,” said Younas. “We’re under no illusions that it will be much harder this year.
“Last season when we were winning lots of games, we played Cleckheaton in the Cup, who have just been relegated. And we got 300 and they chased it really easy.
“That shows there’s a massive gulf.
“We’ve brought in some experienced players who’ve played Premier Division cricket before along with a few exciting young cricketers.
“The target is still the same, to try and survive and consolidate and then see where we go the year after.
“The best thing about our club is that there’s no expectation. When I go into the meetings with the cricket committee, there’s no, ‘You have to win this, you have to win that’. It’s just, ‘Go and enjoy your cricket and give a good account of yourselves’.
“The team seem to be feeding off that.”
They have signed opening batter Gharib Nawaz, wicketkeeper bat Sam Johnson, all-rounders Hishaam Khan and Adal Islam, opening bowler Hashim Wajid and overseas pro Israr Ullah, the Pakistani all-rounder who has previously played for Saltaire.
Success has been replicated below first-team level, while 2023 will see an emphasis on junior development within the club.
“The second team is a similar story to ours,” said Younas. “They’ve also come into the Bradford League and been champions.
“They were champions of the Premier last year.
“As for the juniors, we had a good set-up and then Covid hit. We lost a lot of players there and didn’t have a junior side for a couple of years.
“But we’ve just managed to get Club-marked and are focusing a hell of a lot on getting the juniors back on track this year.
“Nabil Khan, who runs the juniors, is on with that. We’re hoping to field three junior teams.”
Jer Lane rely heavily on sponsorship for their income, with Younas extending his thanks to Eldwick Law, Goldmark Solicitors, Greenwood Motors, Kashmiri Aroma, MyLahore and White Rose Direct.
“We don’t have a massive income coming in like some do through bar takings,” he said. “So there are a lot of local businesses who have offered us fantastic support.
“Nabil and Jonny Waddington, our chair, also deserve a lot of praise for the work they put in at the club, as does our groundsman Luke Wood.
“And I could go on with many other names as well who have helped us get to where we are.”
There will clearly be a lot of eyes on Jer Lane this summer and a lot of people within the Yorkshire Family keen to see their move across town be successful. Exciting times ahead.