THE kids are certainly alright for Marlborough Cricket Club, who are hopeful their talented teenage contingent will propel them to a successful 2014.
Marlborough are currently preparing for the start of the new West of England Premier League Wiltshire Division season and, having finished the last five campaigns between third and fifth, they believe they’re now ready to take the next step and return to the Glos/Wilts Division - the highest level the club has ever played at.
The Advertiser gets a sense of the enthusiasm brewing around the club ahead of the new term by speaking to Martin ‘Numbers’ Smithers, the first team’s dedicated scorer and committee member.
Smithers, who speaks passionately about what Marlborough are trying to achieve, reveals that the club rate their current young crop as the best for a generation.
“We’re there to get the youngsters through and get them into the senior teams as well as providing cricket to anyone within Wiltshire,” he said.
“We’re always trying to get the youngsters in the team. We’ve gone through a period of transition of late - 2012 was one of our lower points and from there on in the youngsters have started to come to the fore.
“Combined with the talents of an overseas player we’re not looking to get promoted out of the league we’re in now. We’ve been in the same league for five years, finishing between third and fifth every time.
“We’re stuck in that mode at the moment but we finished third last year and it was a competitive third, we only lost four games during the whole year.
“The target now is to let the youngsters come through and hopefully, if everything goes to plan, provide a challenge to Burbage and Purton and try to get back to the league above which we last played in back in 2008.”
Smithers picks out all-rounder James Richardson, wicketkeeper-batsman Duncan Lorraine and seamers Cam Gordon and Paul Smith for particular praise.
All four are 18 years old and look set to make sure the future stays bright for Marlborough.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had such a broad range of talent all come through at the same time,” said Smithers. “We’ll produce good players again in the future but I don’t think they’ll all come through like this again.
“James has yet to fully grasp his opportunities in the ones but he’s had some good knocks in the second team and was instrumental in getting our second team promotead.
“Duncan generally opens the batting and probably has more first-team experience than all the other youngsters coming through. He came out of his shell at the end of last season. We’re not quite sure how much we’re going to see of him due to school and commitments “Cam is an opening bowler, he’s had a few opportunities in the ones but he was injured last season, unfortunately. He does have college commitments but we will certainly get a strong second half of the season from him.
“Paul’s an opening or first-change bowler. He’s a club man. He’s played a few games in the ones and has been the model of consistency in the twos.”
Though the teenagers might represent a bright future, Smithers stesses that without the more experienced backbone of the side Marlborough would not be able to compete.
“Last time we were in Glos/Wilts it took off when the players got to their early 20s but we do have a good mix,” he said. “We’ve got youngsters and then some established players - Ben Head, Nick Crabbe, George Fox. Ben has done the business for about 15 years for the club, he’s a reliable 30-35 wicket man and can produce with the bat.
“Along with an overseas player, who can hopefully get the best out of the group, it’s looking good.”