Swardeston are facing up to life without key performer Jaden Hatwell – and skipper Mark Thomas admits expectations may have to be adjusted accordingly.
Hatwell has returned to his native New Zealand, while Zimbabwe international Richard Sims’ availability is expected to be extremely limited. Will Rist has moved to London and Daniel Martin is away at university until June, so Swardeston have been left with something of a rebuilding job.
“Obviously we will miss them and it’s safe to say it will change the balance of the team,” said Thomas. “Without Jaden and Richard our bowling attack will be more 50/50 in terms of seam and spin instead of being 75/25 in favour of spin.
“It’s very difficult to say how we will get on, but I’m looking forward to it as much as ever. As nice as it is to have a settled team, things can get a bit stale and last year we under-performed, ultimately we gave it away. Realistically this year if we finish in mid-table we’ll have done well, but if we get off to a good start you never know.”
Swardeston have gone back to the future by recruiting New Zealander Michael Parlane for his second spell at the club. Parlane first played for Swardeston in 2001 and returned for the following two seasons. Now 39, he has a wealth of first class experience and Thomas said: “It will probably be his last year of coming over here, but he knows a lot of people at the club and will have no problem settling in.
“We’ve gone for an older, more experienced guy to help some of our younger batters.”
Norfolk wicketkeeper Stephen Gray will fill one of the vacant batting spots and young prospect Lewis Denmark has been signed from Bradenham. Simon Dyer, who played for Stow last year, and former Norwich & Coltishall Wanderers all-rounder Jeremy Elliott are other new faces at The Common.
Thomas is also keen to integrate some of Swardeston’s homegrown talent into the first team: “We must not forget the young players who have been with us for a while,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good youngsters who are hopefully getting to an age where they can step into the team. The likes of Callum Taylor, Matthew Taylor and Dale Reynolds have all done well in the second team and are very much part of the squad.
“You have to do that – if you have a team who all get old at the same time it’s going to end in disaster at some point. There’s something very satisfying about bringing young players through, like Rob Newton who is now playing first class cricket with Northants. We would like to repeat that with some of the young players who are coming through now.”
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