Looking ahead after a challenging time
Even though it’s currently a very cold and foggy January morning, I have to say I’m very much looking forward to the 2022 cricket season. I have a burgeoning hope that it sees a return to some form of normality in terms of the cricketing experience. The last two years have been an endurance that no one could have imagined, but it’s now time to look forward, and for the club and the community to grow and to flourish.
The forthcoming season will see many changes within Kings Hill Cricket Club, all carefully designed to help take the club forward and to support our journey. As everyone is aware, we’ve only been established for 15 years, but we’ve had great success on the field, culminating in our position within the Kent Cricket League. We are now able to field five senior teams on weekends – a massive step forward from the days of struggling to find enough for one!
We’ve also had tremendous growth within our junior section. Many of our young cricketers now gaining recognition at both district and county levels. Growing and developing at such a rate has been an amazing achievement. It does bring with it the challenge of maintaining that progress and being able to offer our members the proper playing and training facilities, along with the delivery of appropriate coaching and tuition to ensure we continue to advance.
An improved approach to coaching
In order to maintain our upward trajectory, we’ve engaged the services of a professionally qualified coach to lead and deliver a much-improved training programme. As an ex-professional cricketer, with first-class playing experience, Miles Richardson brings with him the expertise and knowledge required to support us in reaching the level required to maintain our success. Miles has a remit to deliver an improved training regime across the entire club. This includes the ECB-sponsored junior programmes of All Stars and Dynamos, through the junior age groups and into the senior adult teams.
Changes are now underway and a revised structure for the junior section has already been implemented. The juniors are the future of the club and the reorganisation into Performance, Improving and Developing streams will allow us to focus the most appropriate training to the relevant juniors, in the best possible way. We hope everyone shares our enthusiasm for the new approach and ask for your continued support as we move into a new era.
Strength and change in senior cricket
On the field, there are also going to be some major changes in the coming season. For the last eight years, Shaun McMurray has been at the helm for the 1st XI. He has led the club to tremendous success as we’ve progressed through the Kent Regional League into the Kent County League. Without Shaun’s guidance and leadership, this wouldn’t have been possible and we all owe him a large debt of gratitude.
However, all good things come to an end and Shaun has taken the decision to relinquish the captaincy. He will be stepping down from his leadership role but, luckily for us, he will continue to grace us with his presence for a few years yet. I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge Thank You to Shaun. It’s been a great journey and I hope we can still rely on your input to preserve our momentum.
Taking over the captaincy from Shaun will be Jamie Green, who joined the club three years ago. As a player with much experience from the upper levels of the Kent League, his knowledge and expertise will stand him in good stead. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Jamie well for the upcoming campaign and the pursuit of promotion.
Another promotion for the Twos
The 2nd XI had another great year in 2021 and once again secured promotion. A series of strong performances with the bat was further consolidated by some exemplary bowling displays. The real success of the team has been the combination of youth and experience. Last season saw the introduction of a number of the junior players and it was hugely encouraging to see how they stepped up and performed with real credit. With support from the skipper, Matt Blewett, and a few of the older heads, some of the best performances came from players still in their teens. As they all continue to develop, they can only improve and really push on and challenge the established 1st XI players.
Debut season for the Thirds
Last season saw the introduction of the 3rd XI and it has proved to be a huge success. Whilst the results may have been mixed, the intention to give our younger juniors exposure to adult league cricket was truly vindicated by a series of outstanding individual performances. Taking the step up to adult cricket can be daunting, but our players, without fail, took it in their stride and represented the club with great proficiency. With last season under their belts and a few more juniors stepping up, the future looks bright and it looks like a 4th XI won’t be far away! Rich Clarke has taken on the captaincy this year and his leadership will be crucial to further progress.
The Sunday Kent Village League team also had a fabulous season, under the leadership of Jack Cook. Going unbeaten through the league season, they won KVL Division 5 and secured promotion. The atmosphere around this team is a joy to behold and it’s no surprise that selection is always a difficult process, with many players wanting to be involved. As a result, we’ve now taken the decision to introduce a second, friendly, team on a Sunday. This team will be led by Adam Lowing and we wish him all the best for the coming season. If anyone is looking for a casual game of cricket among some like-minded individuals, this will be just the ticket.
Community and social events
A huge strength of our club is the connection with the local community and this is in no small way down to the hard work and effort put in by Richard Marriner, and the Social Committee. Supported by our bar manager Dave Shepherd and his team, they continue to provide a large number of events ranging from Race Nights, Gin Nights, Bingo, and quizzes.
Now that Covid restrictions are easing, we hope to be able to expand our events and look forward to welcoming you all back to join us. Our ever-popular Club Day was its usual big success and we will be looking to continue that in July. We are also planning to host a couple of events to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and we would very much welcome your company.
As you would imagine, a club like ours is hugely reliant on its volunteer base. I wanted to say a huge thank you to all those who put in a massive effort to make us the club we are. We wouldn’t be here without you and you are all a credit to the club and the community.
To finish up this message, I also wanted to say thanks to our sponsors who continue to support us and make everything we do possible. Thanks go to Thompstone Wealth Management, TenIntelligence, Renson, Kent Dairy, and our newest addition, Anchor Hanover.