Hampstead captain hopes new recruits will hit the ground running
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Hampstead captain Steve Clark says the club’s ability to integrate their raft of new signings will be their biggest challenge in the Premier
Division of the Middlesex County Cricket League this season.
The Lymington Road outfit finished sixth in the top flight last summer and have made a host of additions to their first-team squad for the new campaign, which starts on Saturday.
Clark has taken over the first-team captaincy after a successful debut season in the Middlesex County League last year, replacing the departed overseas player Mark Divin.
Clark told Ham&High Sport: “I see the challenge lying in bringing the new players together as a unit and integrating them with the existing foundation of players that we have.
“The committee and I have made this our aim and we have high hopes, both this season and moving forward, once everyone is settled and comfortable at the club.”
Hampstead’s headline signing is the former Middlesex wicketkeeper Ben Scott, who recently retired from the professional game – and he has experience of the Middlesex County League from his time at Finchley.
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The chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown, said: “We have been very busy during the winter.
“We had some big holes to fill with Mark Divin not coming back from Australia and Gary Montgomery being forced to retire from the game with a back injury, so we had runs and wickets to replace if we were going to be competitive.
“Ben will be the senior cricket coach at Hampstead in 2013. We are delighted to have him, he will be a terrific addition and we expect him to make a big difference.”
Hampstead have also landed Scott’s former Worcestershire team-mate James Cameron, who retired from the first-class game last year.
Another new recruit, Graham Clark, is with the MCC Young Cricketers and represents the Durham Academy, while Sumeet Sharma has returned to the club after a couple of years with Brentham.
Former England Under-19 international Liam Hughes has also arrived from the Birmingham League, as does Anthony Wilkinson, who has represented Oxford University.
Meanwhile, Rob Jones joins his brother Ed at Hampstead, arriving from Guildford, while Chris Beaumont-Dark is with the Middlesex Academy after being at the Warwickshire Academy and Dorridge in the Birmingham League.
Hampstead are yet to sign an overseas player but Ragheb Aga – who is classified as non-resident – will be available for the first team.
He has trained with Middlesex all through the winter and will be hoping that the injuries which impacted his career with Sussex and Kenya are behind him.
Brown said: “We are delighted with the direction the club is going in – we are attracting lots of players.
“I think winning the Middlesex Cup has helped that, and also perhaps the extensions of various train lines that has made us the easiest club to get to in London.
“We are expecting to be competitive in all teams this season, but we had the same hopes for the first XI last year and a variety of twists conspired to undermine a good start – so no big predictions, but we are hopeful of having a much better season than in 2012.”