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Brown’s ‘nervous’ as Hampstead start defence of Middlesex County League title

09:50 08 May 2014

Hampstead captain Steve Clark will be aiming to lead the club to glory again this season. Pic: Max Flego

Hampstead captain Steve Clark will be aiming to lead the club to glory again this season. Pic: Max Flego

Max Flego Sports Photography

Hampstead start the new Middlesex County League campaign as the reigning champions – and the chairman of the playing committee admits he is “nervous” about that title.

The Lymington Road club won the title for the first time in their history last summer, and Nick Brown is feeling edgy ahead of the start of the new season.

“Nervous is how I feel about 2014 – not for any reason other than the weight of expectation,” he told Ham&High Sport. “It’s one thing to win the title, but attempting to defend it brings with it a whole different set of emotions and now we are on the verge of the season opener these are heightened.

“We are delighted that Steve Clark is captaining the club again this season. Not only is he one of the top all-rounders in the league, he is a terrific captain and the style of cricket we play is symptomatic of the way he likes the game to be played.

“Despite winning the title last year, he was very unhappy to personally miss out by six runs on the ‘double’ of 500 runs and 30 wickets – and that is testament to how much he expects from himself.

“He already has a century this season from the game against Cambridge University and we hope for another good season from him.”

Hampstead signed a host of new players before their triumphant 2013 campaign and, although there have not been so many changes this time, there have been been some departures and arrivals.

Tom Smith, who was contracted to Middlesex CCC, has moved on to Gloucestershire, while Graham Clarke has been signed by Durham, and James Cameron has moved to Perth in Western Australia to pursue a new career in accountancy.

Hampstead have responded by signing left-handed batsmen George Adair and Archie Fellowes from St Cross Symondians in the Southern League.

Opening bowler Jordan Price arrives from MCC Young Cricketers, having previously represented Lansdowne CC and spent an injury-plagued season with Bath CC. – and Middlesex have also allocated Freddie Fairhead to Hampstead.

Brown said: “Again, we have had to try and fill some sizeable gaps, but I think we have done a decent job at that and we would hope to be competitive again.

“We expect George and Archie to provide us with runs and dynamism in the field, and we look forward to Jordan adding some extra firepower with the new ball.

“Naturally we want Freddie to push his way into the Middlesex first team, but for now we will be happy seeing him playing regularly for Hampstead and hopefully forging a long relationship with us in the same way as Tom Smith.

“We also have Ollie Rayner potentially available to us from Middlesex, but we will have to wait and see how much we see of Ollie. Either way, he is a very welcome addition to our club. He lives locally and we are happy for him to be involved socially.

“What I am really hoping for is some better fortune with injuries. We lost Ben Scott, Ragheb Aga and James Cameron each for half a season last year, so if we can get a full season out of Ben and Ragz we will be very happy as they are both potential matchwinners.”

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