Coach backs Johnson decision

Shawn Johnson, Malcolm's brother, works one off his legs during Bexhill's defeat to Preston Nomads last weekend. Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-140719-175240002)
Shawn Johnson, Malcolm's brother, works one off his legs during Bexhill's defeat to Preston Nomads last weekend. Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-140719-175240002)

Bexhill Cricket Club first team coach Ian Cox has backed Malcolm Johnson over his decision to stand down as captain.

Johnson announced his decision at training last Thursday and vice-captain Jack Richardson will take over the reins for the rest of the season.

The left-handed batsman feels this will allow him to concentrate on scoring the heavy runs that Bexhill need without the burden and pressure that comes with captaining a Sussex Premier League side.

Cox said: “He’s just giving it a rest to concentrate on his batting. It’s a big job and he’s just having a bit of a break. It’s a brave decision, but I think it’s absolutely the right decision.

“He’s still a massive part of the decision-making, but the key for us is to get Malcolm enjoying his cricket and playing to his best. The best way he can keep us up is by scoring plenty of runs.”

One of the club’s more successful captains, Johnson - who was unavailable for comment - led Bexhill to promotion to the Sussex Premier League last year and the last 64 of the ECB Royal London Club Championship this year, as well as the final of the Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup in 2012 and semi-finals this year.

A Bexhill CC statement added: “The club wish to thank Malcolm for all the hard work and commitment he has put in, and hope that in the future he will be able to stand again.”

Bexhill are currently in the final safe spot of eighth with seven matches remaining. They hold a 14-point cushion over second-bottom Three Bridges and are 43 points better off than local rivals Hastings Priory.

“We’re not down at all; we’re still really, really positive,” continued Cox. “Obviously I would rather be where Eastbourne are (in the top five), but it’s in our hands and that’s all you can ask for.”

At present it looks like a three-way battle between Bexhill, Bridges and Hastings to avoid the two relegation places, but a victory for Bexhill at Cuckfield tomorrow (Saturday) could drag the mid-Sussex outfit back into the equation. Seventh-placed Cuckfield are currently 28 points ahead of Bexhill.

“If we can have a positive result there, it brings them back into the game and it puts us closer to other people,” Cox went on.

Bexhill will be just down the road from Cuckfield on Sunday when they visit Ansty in a Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup

semi-final. It will be Bexhill’s first away tie in the competition this year having come through three matches at The Polegrove so far.

With Bexhill two divisions above Ansty, on paper they have a great chance of reaching the final for the second time in three years, but Division Three leaders Ansty shocked Premier League top dogs Preston Nomads in the previous round.

“They’ve done well to get where they are so they’re obviously a decent side, but I suspect we go into that as favourites,” added Cox. “It’s a nice distraction to have, and we’ll go out and relax.”