RUN machine Will Driver says the lure of his home club Read was the only thing that would have persuaded him to leave Winton.
Driver has put pen to paper on a deal to become professional for the Whalley Road club next year after a successful 2012 campaign for the Manchester Association outfit, where he was also pro in 2009.
He was also paid man with Accrington in the Lancashire League two years ago and was the subject of interest from a host of clubs.
But he said his decision was made easy when he found out of Read’s interest.
“To be honest Read is probably the only club that could have made me leave Winton,” said the 23-year-old batting all-rounder, who played as an amateur at Read last year as he recovered from a shoulder operation.
“It is my home club and I am really looking forward to next season already – even though this one hasn’t finished for me yet.
“And after last year when we lost in the final of the Ramsbottom Cup I want us to go that step further and win some silverware.”
Driver, who holds the Read amateur batting record, has enjoyed a remarkable season with Winton and has smashed 1,331 runs to date.
And he is hoping to maintain that sort of form when he returns to the Ribblesdale League next term.
“I always look to improve year on year,” he said. “I look to score as many runs as I can and while my batting is always stronger than my bowling, I try to improve that each season.
“It will be good to go back to Read. I came through the ranks there as did Kyle O’Connor, who is captaining the side, and there are some good young lads in the team.
“I am not sure if Jonathan Harvey has decided whether to play on or not next year – if he retires it will leave a big hole with both bat and ball.
“But if he does go it will give someone else the chance to step up.
“That’s what the likes of Mohammed Jamal, Joey Marshall and Elliott Artingsole have done this season.
“They have done well this year and will improve next year.”
Driver will replace Lancashire’s Cumbrian youngster Jordan Clark as paid man. Clark finished the campaign with 929 league runs, while Jamal made 1,017, six short of Driver’s amateur mark.
Harvey’s final day 114 not out took him past the 500 mark and he was also the club’s leading wicket-taker with 58 for the season.