There are major changes at Chesterfield CC with four of last year’s First X1 players not available for the coming season.
Drage Thompson has retired, veteran spinner Brian Gladwin has stepped down to the second XI, Mykylo Bird, last year’s vice-captain and wicket keeper, has moved clubs and Ross Whiteley, the Worcestershire CCC player, will no longer be available when he has no county commitments.
Club captain Alex Hibbert paid tribute to the quartet. He said: “These are four local players who were fully integrated into the club, training regularly and involved in the social aspects. It’s a big blow for us that they are leaving at the same time. I wish them well and thank all four of them for what they contributed to the club.”
In a busy close season the club have managed to sign three players who are all expected to start in the First XI.
David Hunt, who will likely open the batting, comes in from Barnsley with a proven track record both as a wicket keeper and an effective batsman.
Kieron Garside, a big, tall, pace bowler comes in from Mansfield Hosiery Mills and Harry Wilmott from Morton. The young spinner, who has spent the winter in Australia, also has a reputation as a great fielder and batsman.
Josh Savage returns after a winter in South Africa and will form a quartet of seamers with Garside, Andrew Parkin-Coates and Paul Goodwin.
The spinners sees left arm spin with Luke Baddeley and right arm with Wilmott, supplemented by Matt Critchley when he is available.
On the batting, Hibbert said: “We have Ben Slater and Matt Critchley available pending their county commitments and apart from them we are very strong, with the new people coming in, existing established players and those stepping up from the seconds.
“We have a lot of changes this year and gelling as a team is so important. A top four spot in the league is definitely achievable but we could do better dependent on the availability and form of the two county players.
“We have to try to establish ourselves as a unit early. This is even more important when the cup competitions come early and I fancy our chances particularly in the National Cup.”
Chesterfield host champions Sandiacre Town in Saturday’s opener, starting at noon.