James optimistic ahead of new season

PUBLISHED: 16:01 16 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:08 26 October 2009

WGC's title-winning team from last season

WGC's title-winning team from last season

GOING into the new cricket season expectations remain high at WGC following last season s promotion to the Home Counties Premier League Division One. WGC s 1st XI won the Division Two (East) championship last season, 37 points clear of their nearest and l

WGC captain Martin James batting

GOING into the new cricket season expectations remain high at WGC following last season's promotion to the Home Counties Premier League Division One.

WGC's 1st XI won the Division Two (East) championship last season, 37 points clear of their nearest and local rivals Potters Bar.

Yet you might think the step up into the highest standard of club cricket in England would be daunting for the newly promoted Digswell Park side.

Not so, according to experienced captain Martin James.

"Most of our side have played at a higher level, so I think we are well suited to the league," said the left-handed batsman.

"My aim for the side is to win it. Simple as that.

"We're certainly a strong side on paper and the players will want to prove themselves."

WGC have kept all of last season's championship-winning side and added former Lancashire 2nd XI all-rounder Derek Tate to their squad.

The 27-year-old Australian will add a touch of class to each part of the team, with him expected to bat high up the order and start as a main bowler.

Tate has played most of his cricket in Queensland, Australia, but has also had spells at Lancashire club side Littleborough and Cambourne of Cornwall.

He will add to what is already a strong and experienced side, with club coach and former Middlesex and Kent medium-fast bowler Jamie Hewitt and former Middlesex and Somerset star Aaron Laraman forming the nucleus of the side.

Laraman had a hugely successful 2007 season playing for Hertfordshire in the Minor Counties Championship, ending with a 56.88 batting average to finish as the fourth highest run scorer in the championship.

Oxfordshire Minor Counties player Hewitt also forms part of the team, along with teenage Herts batsman Dan Blacktopp, leg-spinner Tom Pettet and off-spinner Jamie Southgate.

Simon White and Ben Frazer also played regularly for the county last season.

Club secretary Chris Molyneux believes the improvements on and off the field over the winter bode well for the future.

He said: "Pre-season has gone smoothly, and the important thing is we have retained most players from last season.

"We have a strong 1st XI, backed up by some great up-and-coming youngsters, so we are looking forward to what should be a successful season once again."

WGC will be relishing facing last season's champions Oxford and Herts rivals Radlett, and James is adamant that the side can continue their success.

He said: "We have strengthened where we needed to, and I believe we will be more than a match for any of the sides.

"Most sides have similar players in terms of class and experience to ours, so we should have no fear."

WGC's first friendly match of the season is at home to West Herts on Saturday.

They entertain a Hertfordshire County XI at Digswell Park the following afternoon.


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