Hastings Priory Cricket Club has appointed a new first team captain for the 2016 season.
Tom Gillespie will lead Priory on their return to the Sussex Premier League after succeeding John Morgan, who guided the club to promotion as Division Two runners-up last summer.
He said: “I can’t wait to get started. We’ve got a young squad and last year was a really good year for players breaking into the first team so we’ll be trying to keep the momentum going.
“It’s an exciting time. The disappointment of being relegated (in 2014) has been put behind us now. Morgs did a great job last year and it feels like the club’s moving in the right direction.”
Gillespie, a right-handed batsman who these days features in the middle order, came up through the ranks at Priory and has been a regular in the first team since 2013.
Although he missed the first part of the 2015 season while studying in Bilbao, Gillespie enjoyed a pretty decent campaign. He scored 285 league runs from nine innings at an average of 40.71 with three fifties, including a best of 86 at home to Pagham.
The 22-year-old is in his final year of studying economics at the University of Greenwich and in 2016 will be available from the start of the season.
Although Gillespie took over the reins a few times during his days in the second team, he has never captained the front side before so next season will be very much a new challenge for him. Elliot Hooper will remain vice-captain, and Ian Gillespie will continue as first team coach, meaning it will be a father and son coach/captain combination.
Morgan said: “My plan was to do it for one year and hopefully get us promotion. We achieved that and I thought the time has come to relinquish it.
“The basis of the squad is young and in terms of moving forward, it probably needs one of those guys to step up.
“Tom’s keen and he’s got good leadership qualities. When you’re thinking about bowling changes or batting order options, he’s always there communicating and thinking about the game.
“It will be a challenge and it will be hard irrespective of who’s captain in terms of getting us back into that level. But there’s enough experience in there of how to manage a game of cricket.”
Morgan, a prolific opening bowler for Priory over many years, intends to carry on playing and the 38-year-old has also become club chairman after previous incumbent Ian Gillespie stepped down to vice-chairman.
Adam Maharaj-Newman will captain what will no doubt be a youthful second team as it seeks to bounce back from last summer’s relegation. Maharaj-Newman is also the club’s colts’ co-ordinator.
A third team skipper has still to be appointed, but Gary Sargent will lead the fourths. Judy Perkins and Barry Dixon have become honorary life members of the club.
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