All change at Hampstead, but Brown is optimistic about season ahead

Hampstead chairman Nick Brown (left) with Liam Hughes during the 2018 season (pic: Hampstead CC/Nick

Hampstead chairman Nick Brown (left) with Liam Hughes during the 2018 season (pic: Hampstead CC/Nick Brown). - Credit: Archant

Liam Hughes and Steve Clark bid farewell to Lymington Road in the winter, but the mood at the club remains positive

There have been big changes at Hampstead this winter, but chairman Nick Brown is confident they can replace the runs and wickets lost.

Captain Liam Hughes stepped down after becoming a father and Steve Clark has moved on following seven seasons at the club after leaving the area.

Both will leave a void, but Brown believes the new faces at Lymington Road can make an impact in the Middlesex County Premier Division.

He said: "There has been quite a lot of change at Hampstead over the winter. Liam Hughes has stepped down as captain.

"Liam and his wife have very recently become parents and knowing this he has taken a break from the game and Steve Clark has moved from the area too.

"Steve had a great career at Hampstead, scoring over 2,500 league runs at 30 and taking 142 wickets at 19 and of course winning two league titles. He will be missed by us, perhaps not so much by the umpire community!

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"We have however recruited some real talent and we are confident we can replace the runs and wicket, in different ways, but perhaps especially in the spin department where we are much stronger."

Hampstead finished sixth in the 2018 Premier Division, 90 points off eventual winners Richmond, but are positive about this upcoming season.

Several different bowling options will be available to new captain Matthew Watson, including Suresh Peiris.

Brown added: "Suresh is our overseas player from Sri Lanka, he is a 'chinaman' bowler with first-class experience and we look forward to his arrival following all of the tragic events in his home country.

"Ajit Sambhi is a quality leg spin bowler, he has moved to the area having previously played for Sunbury in the Surrey Championship and Ben Frazer has joined us after many years at Harpenden.

"Ben will bring experience as well as quality with both bat and with his off-spin.

"Rich Banham previously played in a strong Finchley team and he has come back to London from Australia.

"He will bring us pace and aggression with the new ball and because he was born in the United Kingdom, he is eligible to play alongside our overseas player."

A big decision for Hampstead to make, after the departure of Hughes, was who to pick as skipper of the first-team.

Despite only joining the club ahead of the 2018 campaign, Brown and everyone involved knew who they wanted.

He added: "Our priority in the off season was to appoint a new first-team captain and whilst Matt only had one season with the club, he was our unanimous choice.

"Matt had captained Gerard's Cross and whilst at Hampstead has demonstrated his ability both on the field and off it.

"He has made an immediate impact, he has been very active in helping attract new players to the club and during pre-season has already created a very vibrant atmosphere.

"Of course there will be challenges during the season, but we have no doubt Matt will manage all of that."