Bexhill Cricket Club is set to begin its 2018 season.
The Polegrove-based outfit will contest its opening competitive game today (Saturday) with a Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup first round tie at home to Mayfield. Play will start at 1pm.
2018 promises to be a transitional and developmental season for Bexhill, who will be playing their league games in Division Two following last summer’s relegation from the Premier Division.
Bexhill have lost some familiar faces from recent times, with Malcolm Johnson joining Eastbourne, Josh Beeslee moving to Hastings Priory and Tim Hambridge to Crowhurst Park.
Matt Peters has arrived from Crowhurst Park, however, to join his brother Nick and Rob Yardy, brother of ex-Sussex star Michael Yardy, has also come on board.
Bexhill have signed Danul Dassanayake, a batsman and off-spin bowler, as their overseas player. Dassanayake comes highly recommended by previous Bexhill overseas players Dave Lowery and Sam Roberts.
Shawn Johnson and Johnathan Haffenden will share the captaincy duties in a move which will give Johnson a taste of the role and ease the considerable workload Haffenden had in 2017.
Hamish Russell has returned as club coach and will oversee the graduation to the first team of a new crop of talented young players.
He said: “We’re going to be a bit lighter on the ground than in previous years. We’re going to be a young side. We’ve lost a few players from when I was around previously, but these things are cyclical and this is a chance to bring through some of the young players.”
Bexhill have been running indoor net practice ahead of the season and had their first outdoor session this Tuesday. They also contested an in-house practice match last weekend.
The serious stuff will get underway against fellow Division Two outfit Mayfield today. The two teams will also face each other on the opening day of the league campaign next weekend.
Bexhill will be missing young prospects Thomas Naish, Joseph Sarro and Oliver van Noort early on, while Nick Peters isn’t back in the country until next week having spent the winter playing for Norths CC in Mackay, Australia.
Of tomorrow’s match, Russell said: “It’s more about us as a group of players being able to signal our intent about how we want the summer to go.
“We do have four or five really good cricketers in our midst and they didn’t really get off the ground last year for whatever reason.
“There’s got to be a statement of intent from some of these guys to say we’re going to lead the youngsters through the season and really launch a platform, not just for this year, but beyond that as well.”
Bexhill’s second team, meanwhile, will travel to Mayfield in the preliminary round of the Gray-Nicolls Sussex 2nd XI T20 Cup today. The winners will afterwards return to the field to play Hastings Priory in round one.
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