Hythe will be going into the first season of the new decade in a positive frame of mind following their successful first campaign in Kent League Division One last time out, which saw them pipped to promotion to the Premier League on the last day by The Mote.
It has however been a tough winter, with the news that strike bowler Ben Dwyer will not be returning for a third stint at The Grove from his native Australia. His 37 wicket haul will be near-on impossible to replace and seemingly much of the responsibility with the ball will fall to the likes of Trevor Squire, Pat Owen, Dan Patching and Jago Pearson, the latter two of which both had excellent first years in 2009 for the seaside club.
They have also lost skipper Dan Furnival and John Smith for the first half a dozen games to work commitments, both of which will prove to be a big loss having contributed over 1000 runs between them last year.
Stand-in skipper Leon Morgan gives his thoughts. “Losing Dan (Furnival) and John (Smith) for the start is going to be a big loss for us. However, we’ve signed well with the experience of James Watson, Andy and Chris Maurice, as well as Lockland Blunden, a young all rounder from Adelaide so we aren’t looking too bad.”
The club will indeed be hoping that these new signings will help feel the void left by some notable absentees and at the same time help in the building process towards the club’s ultimate aim; Premier League cricket.
James Watson, a new recruit from Ashford, former Kent all rounder and winner of the Premier League with Bromley says he’s ecstatic having joined Hythe in the winter. “Everyone at the club has made me really welcome. We have an impressive, youthful squad that can go along way this year if we get things right.”
Off-spinner Pearson, who picked up 21 wickets at an average of 22 in 2009, admits that everyone will need to raise their game. “Our first three matches are probably against the three strongest teams; Whitstable, Blackheath and Beckenham and so we will need to be at our best to beat them. Losing Ben (Dwyer) only means that the rest of us will need to step up, but I think we are capable of doing that.” Pearson bowled 6 overs for 12 runs in the side’s first warm-up game on Saturday, a loss to Sandwich.
It was a game for the debutants, with Chris Maurice (66) and James Watson (47*) both shining with the bat, while overseas Blunden picked up two wickets. “There was lots of rustiness from both sides,” skipper Morgan explained. “We have two more of these friendly games before the league starts in earnest and will be looking to get everything in order so we can hit the ground running.” Watson said it was nice to get some runs on debut, but clarified; “hopefully next time I can see the side home!”
Hythe are away to Canterbury this weekend, before being back at The Grove for their final warm-up against local rivals Folkestone, before kicking off against Whitstable on May 8th.