Stand-in Stoneywood Dyce captain George Ninan hopes his side can end a difficult Eastern Premiership campaign on a high.
The Aberdeen side finish their season away to Carlton on Saturday after a challenging year, which has seen them struggle towards the bottom end of the division.
Ninan, who will lead the team in the absence of Jamie King this weekend, is one of several senior players who have been counted upon to help steer a young side through choppy waters.
The experienced spin-bowler has been heartened by the development of some of the young players at Stoneywood Dyce, including King in his first year as skipper.
Ninan said: “It’s the last game of the season so it’s about playing positive cricket and making sure, win or lose, we can walk off the field with our heads held high.
“There are four teams at the top that are slightly ahead of everyone else: Heriots, Carlton, Grange and Forfarshire. They have benefitted from investment in their youth and the geographical locations they are in.
“We are set to finish in the bottom section of the table but could easily have finished in the top six if a few results had gone our way.”
Ninan, along with senior players like player-coach Jan Stander, Shaun Coetzer and seam-bowler Jon Grant, have been reliable figures for the club to count upon during the 2021 campaign.
He also sympathises with King – having been in the role himself – who at a young age has taken on the captaincy responsibility at People’s Park.
Ninan added: “It’s not easy to captain at our level. You have got to manage people who are playing for fun and people who want to compete. There’s also different levels of ability and commitment.
“It’s been challenging but at the same time a lot of the senior guys have stepped up, like myself, Jan and Jon.
“Jamie has done really well for a guy in his mid-20s doing it for the first time and making sure we remained in the division.
“As a senior player you try to leave things in a better place and there’s times when he’s needed me to put my hand up and perform.”
After Saturday the focus will switch to their winter programme and how they can better prepare for the 2022 season.
Ninan added: “At the bottom end, at junior level, we have got great numbers coming along and that is your longer-term future taken care of.
“In the medium-term, we have to see if we can attract players from around the region who are keen to a play at a higher level.
“We have always been prepared really well through the winter, with indoor sessions, but last year Covid killed things.”