Halstead Cricket Club captain Josh Wells believes it is time for his side to finally fulfil their potential with a top-half finish in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division One, writes Russell Claydon.
The Star Stile outfit have no shortage of capable players in their ranks — including Wells himself — but the north Essex side have found themselves having to look over their shoulders during the last two campaigns, with their 8th place in 2016 their highest since winning promotion from Division Two in 2014.
But after bringing in four new additions, in opening batsman Chris Huntington (Essex League), wicketkeeper Sam Chapman (Colchester), all-rounder Brandon Ward (Landsdowne, Bath) and fast bowler Shorn Bobb (Navy), he believes they go into 2017 a stronger outfit than for a number of years.
The is despite opting this season to not employ an overseas professional to spearhead their campaign, making themselves one of only a few clubs, along with Haverhill, to go all-homegrown (in the UK).
“Last year was not necessarily a struggle but it was a bit disappointing,” he said, ahead of Saturday’s opener at home to newly-promoted Elmstead (1pm).
“We had a good side and a good run towards the end of the year. But there were lots of missed opportunities with losing games we should really have won.
“This year we are feeling really positive though.
“We have made some good additions to the squad and have had really good winter training.”
He added: “On paper we are one of the strongest squads in the league.
“Hopefully, we can build on that reputation, and fingers crossed, we can have a really successful year.”
Asked what that would look like, he replied: “We have a lot of ambition and we want to finish really high up. Realistically, we want to be a side pushing from the middle of the table to the higher end.”
n Hadleigh, who only survived relegation through a reprieve last season, begin life without Ben Parker at home to Haverhill (1pm) but their new pavilion will not be open until May 8.