IVYBRIDGE are back in training ready for another assault on the Tolchards Devon League A Division.
The Bridgers did more than hold their own after winning promotion from the B Division, finishing fifth in their first season at the highest level the club has ever played at.
The 2nd XI were able to finish sufficiently high in the B Division West to ensure their opposition will now include some 1st XIs following the league’s all-through restructuring.
No to be overlooked, the under-13 side made it to the last 16 of the ECB National Cup.
The club is now looking to build on that success. There will be changes at Filham Park though.
Harry Solomon has replaced Kelvin Trent as first team captain.
Said Solomon: “I’m looking forward to the challenge. We did well last year, but at the same time had opportunities to win more games than we did and we learned a lot from our first year in the A Division.
“The club has a lot of guys who have come through our colts set-up over the years and with the juniors being so successful we want to encourage them to come through.”
The club is due to get back into indoor nets shortly with sessions being held on Sundays from 6pm until 8pm starting on Sunday, February 4 at Plymouth College.
“Anyone with first team experience wishing to test themselves in a higher standard, or anyone looking to establish themselves as a first-team cricketer, is most welcome to come along and join us,” said Solomon.
The changes don’t end with 1st XI captain. Long-serving overseas player Jeewan De Silva will not be returning for 2018.
Jon Sparkes, the club treasurer, said, “Jee has been a great servant for us both on and off the field.
“The stats say he managed 4,000-plus runs in his seven years with us and took 291 wickets and helped us win two promotions which is as good a return as one can hope for.
“That does tell the whole story really. He was popular guy around the club who always had constructive comments and help for the younger players. It will certainly seem unusual not having him about.”
The club have made the Sri Lankan all-rounder a life member as recognition for his efforts.
“We have a new overseas lined up who comes with a good pedigree and has UK experience who we think will be a good fit,” said Sparkes, who won’t be naming names until the details are confirmed.
The final change is in the chairman’s seat, where Des Solomon is taking a break to be replaced by Jerry Clough.
“Des has decided it was time to step down as chair after four years,” said Sparkes.
“He’s put in a lot of hard work, particularly in setting up and running our Bonus Ball Lottery which was a great concept and has been a good regular fundraiser for us.
“It won’t be the end of veteran Solomon’s involvement though as he will carry on in his coaching role of the club’s under-10 side.
One big plus for the club is that there is movement on the final part of their ground move saga. The Bridgers have been at Filham for seven seasons now, but the outdoor nets are still an issue. The current nets were a D-I-Y job having been moved from the old Erme Playing Fields ground.
Hard work has been going on in the off-season on new nets which the club hope will be in place during 2018.
It promises to be a busy season at Filham Park. The club will again be entering the Under 19 T20 Blast and running the All Stars programme as well as four sides in the Palladium Youth League.
One aim still eludes Ivy though. Starting a Saturday 3rd XI.
“With juniors coming through in good numbers, we looked hard at a 3rd XI in the league,” said long-serving Sparkes, who has been treasurer since 2009 and was club secretary prior to that.
“We spoke to a few of the local, non-league clubs about ground sharing but nothing was forthcoming in time to be able to enter the league. It’s something we need to look at again to see if we can find a solution.
“In the meantime we’ll continue to use the South Devon League and our Sunday friendlies to help bring the younger ones into adult cricket at the right level and provide cricket for those who might not be regular 1st or 2nd XI players.”
As well as adult players of all standards, the club is interested in hearing from junior players interested in taking up the game.
Junior training has been running since early January with sessions for under-10s and under-12 at Ivybridge Community College sports hall between 11.30am and 1pm on a Sunday and for Under 14s and Under 16s at Ivybridge Leisure Centre between 2pm and 3.30pm also on a Sunday.
Interested adult players should contact Harry Solomon on 07522 418020. Interested junior players or their parents should contact Stafford Williams via 07941 588581.