Town regroup after players move on
ASHFORD Town are ready for the start of the Shepherd Neame Kent League season with a Division 1 trip to Sibton Park on Saturday.
Chairman Neil Tegg remains bullish about the prospects at Stacians Park despite the club losing several players over the winter.
Matt Lincoln, Stuart Paine and Shannon Fattore have all moved to St Lawrence, while Jamie Watson and Andy Maurice have joined Hythe
Mr Tegg said: “Our team spirit will see us through and we are not downhearted despite losing several players. We have enough to hold our own in the league.”
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Kyle McAlister has joined from Mersham. Top order batsman Simon Taylor misses the first game because of family commitments.
Liam Tegg, the chairman’s son, is the new captain of the Saturday and Sunday 1st XIs, while Lee Ealham skippers the Saturday 2nds for the first time.
Changes have also be made on the Ashford Town committee and the players are joining forces to help with pitch preparation and ground maintenance during the season.
Australian all-rounder Lochan Blunden makes his Kent League debut for Hythe in their opening Division 1 game of the season against Whitstable at The Grove on Saturday.
The Adelaide youngster replaces fellow countryman Ben Dwyer who is not returning for a third season at The Grove.
Dwyer took 37 wickets last season, taking Hythe to the brink of promotion, only to be pipped on the final day of last season by The Mote.
Another Aussie, Josh Connelly, has been recruited as the 2nd XI overseas player and made 28 and took 2-54 in the two-wicket defeat by Bobbing Court on Saturday.
Watson is a former Kent League winner with Bromley, while other new faces are all-rounder Matt Eccles and Maurice’s brother, Chris, who joins from Gravesend.
Former Chestfield pair Dan Patching and Jago Pearson start their second season with the club, with both set for a busy workload during the season.
Off-spinner Pearson, who picked up 21 wickets last year at 22 apiece, finishing 12th in the averages, said: “Our first three matches are probably against the three strongest teams – Whitstable, Blackheath and Beckenham – and we will need to be at our best to beat them.
“Losing Ben only means that the rest of us will need to step up but we are capable of doing that.”
Tenterden warmed up for the new Division 2 season with a nine-wicket win over Linden Park at Morghew Park on Saturday.
J. Rand (5-27) and M. Baker (3-5) helped dismiss Park for only 92 and then openers Tim Curteis (45 not out), and Andy Crawford (24) put on 73 for the first wicket, as Tenterden needed less than 15 overs to reach their target.
Tenterden, relegated last year, begin at home to Hayes on Saturday.