Step back may be launchpad for Barton says Hele

Andy Hele keeping wicket in the Premier Division against Heathcoat

NO one wants to drop down a division, but it may prove a blessing in disguise for Barton.

Saturday’s rained-off game at Chudleigh was the end of the line in the A Division for Barton, who had to win to stay up.

Adam Parker’s side return to the B Division after three years in the next division up.Andy Hele - a file shot from the mid-1990s

It is a far cry from the glory days of the 1980s when Barton were winning Premier Division titles and doing league and cup doubles.

Veteran keeper-batter Andy Hele is the only survivor of those days still playing regular 1st XI cricket and he can see why it’s gone wrong this year.

“When you finish in the bottom two there is the temptation to blame bad luck a dodgy decision or the weather, but there is always more to it than that,” said Hele.

“It didn’t help that Adam (Parker) missed a slice of the season after knee surgery, or that Shaun Needham was out with back trouble and Stuart Bowker missed games after breaking a bone in a leg.

“The truth is we were making too many changes week in and week out – often it was three or four – which made every game a challenge.

“Every week it would be ‘ great, so and so is back on Saturday’ followed by ‘but such and such can’t play’.

“Only Jared Seiffert, our overseas was available for every game, no one else was.

“Players with families are always going to miss games in the summer holiday period, and that you accept.

“There are players who need to look at their level of commitment to the club and ask themselves if it is enough.”

For the record, Mark Gilmour (14), Tom Drake (15) and Bowker (16) were on more team sheets than anyone other than Seiffert (18).

Hele said relegation will always prompt some players to consider their future and Barton are no different.

Whoever stays or goes during the next eight months, a new chapter begins in May next year.

“We have some players capable of playing Premier cricket in the club – and some fine, young cricketers coming through,” said Hele.

“Being able to do it week in and week out, or most weeks, is the difference between a potential Premier or A Division player and the rest.

“The B Division is a tough environment, as we have found out in the past.

“It will be a good place for our next generation of players to develop so we come back stronger in a year or two.”