NEW Callington captain Luke Brenton feels there’s ‘a real buzz around the club’ ahead of the new season.
Last summer was a challenging one for all concerned at Moores Park, a historic one in the history of Cornish cricket as their three men’s sides were in the top three divisions – a feat never done before.
Unsurprisingly it meant some tough afternoons. While the first team eventually survived in the ECB Cornwall Premier League courtesy of a last day victory at Camborne, both the seconds and thirds went down.
However the club have enjoyed a good winter, bringing in Cornwall opening bowler Ben Ellis, South African batting all-rounder Liam Lindsay and Somerset’s Dutch international Roelof van der Merwe.
To make things even more remarkable, it was announced last week that Samit Patel, the 38-year-old ex-England all-rounder, who made 62 international appearances across all three formats, has also signed on as cover when van der Merwe is unavailable.
However with Cornwall Cricket League rules stating that no more than one player who has played 20 First Class games can be named in any given team, the chance of seeing van der Merwe and Patel line up together is impossible.
Reflecting on the signing, new first team skipper Luke Brenton said: “It all happened last week when Jake Libby had suggested that Samit was potentially looking for some cricket down our way.
“Jake passed Samit our number and within a few hours we had come to an agreement that worked for both parties.
“As we have met Roelof and have a good relationship with him he will be our first option, however as we know he may not be available every week we now have the amazing opportunity of turning to a player of Samit’s experience and quality to bolster our side each week.
“We cannot wait to have players of this quality in our side and also playing in the Cornish leagues, we firmly believe that they will improve not only our own team and quality of players but also improve the standard and performance of Cornish cricket as a whole.”
On the departures front they have lost key opening bowler Josh Procter, who has moved up north following a season in South East Cornwall, as well as batsman Matt Shepherd who has returned to Holsworthy.
Brenton, who took over in the final weeks of last season from Joe White, who is now the club’s director of cricket, said:“Everyone at the club can’t wait to get going, especially with the arrivals of our winter signings.
“I feel they’ve brought a buzz around the club and a real sign of ambition from us to not have a season like last!”
Callington have been training hard in recent months, both at the Cornwall Cricket Centre in Truro and at Callington Community College at the weekends.
Brenton believes they’re ready.
He said: “A lot of preparation has gone into the season, we have been having quality coaching from the Cornish Cricket Company in midweek, as well as real structured and focused sessions in Callington on a Sunday which means we can hopefully hit the ground running.
“Unfortunately we’ve lost Josh Procter and Matt Shepherd due to them moving house but that was beyond our control, hopefully we will be able to welcome them back to Moores Park once again in the future.
“But everyone that is here seems to be buying into the club’s philosophies currently, and hopefully it will bode for a great season for the club, on and off the field.”
While it remains to be seen how much Cally will see of van der Merwe, Lindsay is already in the country while Ellis will also play the whole season.
Brenton hopes for a drama-free campaign this time around, plus some silverware in the T20 format.
He said: “We are aiming for a top half finish in the league, which will show clear progression from last year’s dog fight.
“We are fully aware that we won’t change overnight, but as long as the club is moving forward gradually over the next few years then we believe within the next three or four years we can be pushing towards the top end of the division!
“We would love to be involved in the T20 Kernow Crash Finals Day again this year, having previously won it a couple of years ago, as well as trying to win the Hawkey Cup!
“I feel we only need to improve a few minor things to become a really competitive side in the division.”
The seconds, who are once again led by Toby May, should be near the top end of Division Two East, while the thirds should enjoy their cricket far more in Division Three.
Brenton added: “Our seconds will be looking to consolidate again this year, giving some of our emerging youngsters key roles in the side so that they are ready for the step up into the ones when called upon.
“Our thirds will be an environment where we can bring through younger lads into the game by playing alongside some experienced players. I think this is highlighted with Alex Robinson as the new captain.”
Newly-promoted Helston look set to compete well in the Premier, and Brenton expects the league to be as tough as ever.
He said: “The division is looking really strong again this year which is great, every team seems to have recruited well.
“We know that every Saturday is going to be a tough game, but we look forward to the challenge. I think it’s great for Cornish cricket to have a very competitive Premier League!”
Callington are due to make the short trip up the A388 to old rivals Werrington tomorrow for two T20s on the opening day of the Premier T20 Kernow Crash (midday and 3.10pm).
But with the weather causing havoc for clubs, it remains to be seen whether it goes ahead.
Brenton concluded: “Hopefully the season will start on time on Saturday, it’s really exciting to start the season against a local side that proves to be a good contest.
“A big mention needs to go out to every single groundsman that is working tirelessly to be ready for the season, it’s not an easy task and we really appreciate their work.”