Continuity’s the key for Highgate, says confident Craig

CRAIG Gourlay is backing the same Highgate players who ‘outgrew Division Three’ to shine again as the club look forward to their first ever season in Division Two.

Outgoing captain Gourlay (pictured) led Highgate to a second-placed finish in the third tier last summer, resulting in a historic promotion along with Hornsey.

Now, as they prepare to host Southgate this weekend, Gourlay is backing an unchanged group of players, and particularly a troupe of talented youngsters, to prove that they are worthy of their new status in the Middlesex County League.

“We’ve got complete continuity from last season’s team, we’ve been netting at Lord’s all through the winter and we’ve had good results in pre-season so it’s all looking good,” he said.

“It’s our first ever season at this level so that’s really exciting for everyone here. The aim is to consolidate our place in this league.

“We don’t rely on one matchwinner. We’ve got a number of guys who perform consistently, and hopefully some of our younger guys, who were outgrowing Division Three, will keep improving.”

That prodigious group includes opening batsman Jake Sharland, 22, bowler Jared Treadway, 24, and Sam Joseph, 22, a wicketkeeper-batsman who will be aiming to move up the order after batting at No8 last summer.

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“We’re looking fairly strong and we feel that we can be pushing for a place in mid-table, or towards the top,” said Gourlay. “In the medium term we’re looking to become a Premier Division club.”

The outgoing skipper has been replaced by Ed Binns, the club’s former overseas player, who is now naturalised as a British citizen.

However, Gourlay will remain heavily involved, and he is particularly looking forward to a new derby against Division Two veterans North Middlesex – as well as renewing a long-running feud with Hornsey.

“One really positive aspect of going up to Division Two is the local rivalries that we’ll have now,” said Gourlay.

“Although we’ve lost North London, who stayed in Division Three, we’ve kept Hornsey and we’re getting North Midd as well.

“That will make it quite an interesting season – the local rivalries are what we all live for. Since we’ve come up with Hornsey, that’s definitely a game that we’re looking out for, and we’re playing them at home in week six.”