Bexhill coach: Last year has taken more out of people than I thought

Bexhill celebrate taking a wicket during their heavy defeat at Billingshurst last weekend. Picture by Steve Robards
Bexhill celebrate taking a wicket during their heavy defeat at Billingshurst last weekend. Picture by Steve Robards

Bexhill Cricket Club coach Hamish Russell believes last season’s struggles have ‘taken more out of people’ than anticipated.

The Polegrove-based club finished a splendid third in the Sussex Cricket League Premier Division just two years ago and at that time fielded five adult league sides.

Bexhill were relegated last summer, however, and now sit bottom of Division Two having lost all of their first four completed matches this term.

Russell, in his first year back in the role of club coach, said: “There’s been a huge change in personnel at the club.

“Two years ago Sam Roberts was leading from the front with the likes of Luke Youngs and Callum Guest, but about eight first team cricketers have gone out of that team in 18 months.

“What’s disappointing is grinding things out seems to have gone very, very quickly. I thought it would be easier to come back, but I think last year has taken more out of people than I realised and I think everyone realised.

“For a club like us with no budget, we’ve not got money to go out and pay people so we rely pretty much on volunteer labour to get everything done and we can’t compete with some of those guys (other clubs).

“Someone like Malcolm (Johnson, who left the club over the winter) is playing at Eastbourne on county standard wickets, they have a groundsman and basically they don’t have to lift a finger - sometimes it’s hard to find a reason why people should stay.

“When I started out, we all got stuck in. Nowadays everybody expects it all to be done for them and we’re in a position where we can’t compete with things like that.”

Bexhill are already 43 points adrift of St James’s Montefiore, who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom, and the two teams will meet at The Polegrove tomorrow (Saturday).

In fact, Bexhill’s next two matches are against the two teams immediately above them because they will visit second-from-bottom Lindfield next weekend.

“We’ve had a tough start, but we’ve got four games coming up and we must win at least two of those,” continued Russell. “If we don’t win two out of our next four games, I think we’re in real trouble.

“We’re only one innings away from getting things right. Confidence is a really fickle thing - it’s not something you can buy, it’s not something you can instill into someone, you can’t coach people confidence - but once it does turn up, it runs through everybody.

“Matt Peters has done well, Haff (Johnathan Haffenden) played a good innings and Byron (Smith) has bowled well, but we’ve not had that one person stand up yet. We’re looking for that one special performance and I think that will give everybody a lift - and I’m confident it will happen.

“We’ve not played against anyone that’s that much better than us. Billingshurst gave us a good beating on the weekend, but really we beat ourselves because we played a succession of poor shots.

“We’ve done well most times we’ve got the ball in hand, but we can’t get a score on the board to back them up.”

Matt and Nick Peters, as well as Ian May, should return for tomorrow’s match, which will get underway from 12.30pm at The Polegrove.

Sussex Cricket League Division Two standings (all played five matches): 1 Three Bridges 112pts, 2 Mayfield 109, 3 Billingshurst 108, 4 Bognor Regis 94, 5 Haywards Heath 92, 6 Chichester Priory Park 84, 7 Ansty 53, 8 St James’s Montefiore 83, 9 Lindfield 57, 10 BEXHILL 39.

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