The new season sees many changes at Chesterfield CC, writes John Windle.
A new coach, new captains, a new overseas player, an addition of a Derbyshire CCC player and new faces in the second and third teams signal a fresh start ahead of the 2017 season.
Andrew Parkin-Coates joined the club as coach, Drage Thompson, last year’s First XI captain has had to step down because of family and business commitments but he will still be available for most of the Saturday league games.
The club have very wisely asked Alex Hibbert to take on the role. Hibbert has been a Chesterfield player for 14 years and captained the side when they last won the Premier League in 2008. His vice-captain will be Mykylo Bird, the promising wicket keeper batsman who was recently named the Derbyshire Premier Division U21s Player of the Year for 2016.
Josh Savage, the South African fast bowler who has performed so successfully for Cutthorpe in the past four seasons, has been signed as the overseas player and will bring a welcome boost to the bowling attack plus valuable runs.
Matt Critchley, the young Derbyshire leg break bowler has also been signed and will be available when not required by Derbyshire. This is a particularly good signing as Critchley was said to be ‘on England’s radar’ in last week’s Times Review of the Cricket Season.
Captain Hibbert said: “We are in good shape for the season. The addition of Matt Critchley, Joss Savage and coach Andrew Parkin-Coates has strengthened us in vital areas. We have had some good training sessions over the winter under the guidance of Andrew and there is a great buzz amongst the team. We’re hoping the weather is kinder to us this season and that we can get a fair amount of availability of our county players.
“I’m wanting the team to be more consistent and focused but more importantly to enjoy their cricket and enjoy playing as a team. Team spirit is a big factor in cricket and as a club our family atmosphere is a big advantage.”
An example of this is the fact that when the club last won the Premier League, in 2008, Alex was captain and seven players will still be playing for the 1st. XI in the 2017 season.
A vital part of the Club’s strategy has been identified as having a stronger 2nd. XI that can gain promotion from Division 4 in order to ease the ‘step up’ to the First XI by the Club’s batch of tremendously promising youngsters.
The responsibility for this has been given to new captain, Simon Westwell a very popular and capable long serving member of the club. He will be assisted by Callum Hiron, a young player who has already played in a number of First XI games.
Westwell said: “As a club we need to bridge the gap between us and the 1st XI. It is a hard job for our players stepping up to the Premier League. It’s just not acceptable that, for a club of our size, the 2nd. XI is not in a higher division. This must be a priority for the club as a whole.”
Captain John Whiteley and vice-captain Shaz Jamil will be in charge of the Third XI and the club will also be putting out a Sunday side.
One of the increasing strengths of the Club is its junior section which continues to develop some terrific talent. There are a number of juniors well established in Derbyshire representative teams and recently Olivia Fletcher was appointed as the captain of Derbyshire Girls u/17 XI.
Some of the juniors are well established 2nd.XI players and will or already have, appeared for the First XI. The club’s junior cricket co-ordinator, Stuart Baddeley has done a wonderful job over the years and with his many long serving team of coaches is continuing to seal the future success of the club.
Typical of the club, it also insists that the game is played in the right way. In the latest club newsletter, Mike Taylor, the club’s chairperson stated: “It is my firm belief that both the traditions and the future of this distinguished club depend on having a wide variety of players and members with a common thread of goodness and a desire to uphold the spirit of our great game.”
The club looks in very good shape for the coming season and this is due not only to the players but also to the many dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that this historic club to continues to be such a major part of the town and community of Chesterfield.