Josh Wells takes over as club captain at Halstead

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Halstead’s return to Division One of the Two Counties Championship was swift, bouncing back from relegation in 2013 last season.

Josh Wells takes over as club captain at the Star Stile outfit, having returned at the start of last season from a year with Saffron Walden.

Charlie Douglas-Hughes becomes head coach of a revamped Colts section, with Wells coaching a newly-formed Colts Academy.

South African Dylan Verreynne, a former recipient of Colt of the Year at Halstead, returns and will captain the Sunday team in Division One of the North Essex Cricket League. Joining his team are former Braintree batsman Ollie Grayson and bowler Harry Veal.

Wells can also count on the input of a club legend in the form of Phil Toogood, who will be performing an advisory role to the 20-year-old skipper.

Toogood averaged 46.82 with the bat and 16.92 with the bowl over an illustrious 24-year career in the Halstead first XI. His main aim is to “bring back Halstead’s competitive edge”, which ran through the sides during his time in the first XI.

Saturday was a pre-season training day for the first XI squad. Toogood and Mark Surridge oversaw the running of it, working on fielding, bowling and batting for the first time as a unit this year.

Halstead played Chelmsford in a pre-season friendly on Sunday, losing by 57 runs.

Joe Morris and Dave Elsbury (2) took three quick wickets, before a 100-run partnership from N Prowting (77) and Essex Academy’s Aaron Beard (79) put Chelmsford in an imposing position.

Freddie Statham dismissed Prowling and Callum Hansey got rid of Beard in quick succession, with Halstead tightening up at the death. Morris took his second and Harry Veal got three debut wickets in the last over.

Halstead lost wickets quickly in reply, stumbling to 70-5, with Mark Johnson (35) and Veal (19) making the only meaningful contributions.

Morris (54) targeted the short leg-side boundary, striking five sixes on his way to a maiden senior half-century, but Halstead were bowled out with the last ball of the game.

n The second and third teams have new captains – Andy Rose and Steve Macklin respectively.

Rose was captain of the third team last year, and will make the step-up to leading the Two Counties Division Three side, while Macklin takes charge of a third team that wants to perform well again in Division Eight South.

n Halstead start their Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division One campaign at home to Worlington on Saturday (1pm).

The second team visit Ipswich II in Division Four, and the third team are away to Kelvedon and Feering in Division Eight South. The Sunday team is home to Mistley in the North Essex League Division One.