Harrison Gorney - one of the young Ipplepen players pushing for 1st XI cricket in 2018

IPPLEPEN are anticipating a transitional season in 2018 as the look of the first team changes.

Pens’ 1st XI will continue in the Tolchards Devon League B Division for another season, still under the captaincy of Sam Wakeham.

Wakeham’s team may have a different shape to recent years with the availability of some regulars likely to be impacted by work and personal commitments. Callum King - up and coming

The first team has had a youthful feel for several seasons with the majority of players in the under-25 category. This has now led to many of those players finding that studies, career development and relationships take priority over cricket.

Waiting in the wings are a raft of teenagers all chomping at the bit for 1st XI opportunities after successful seasons with the 2nd XI in 2017.

Head coach Chris Partridge, who captained the 2nd XI to third place in the former B Division West said giving youth a chance was key to keeping momentum at the Moor Road.

"The 2nd XI regularly included five or six under-18s with many of them making huge strides forward by learning from the situations they encountered during the season,” said Partridge.

“Callum King blossomed as a middle-order batter during the second half of 2017 and Reuben Stanley looked a natural fit batting at number six and bowling important overs at the death.

Dan Cowdry - match-winning spinner“Marcus Gadie and Dan Cowdry both won games with their leg-spin and Harrison Gorny had spells of being a handful with bat or ball when he applied himself fully.”

Staying in the 1st XI will depend on performances and getting the balance right.

"It is possible some weeks we will be missing guys in their 20s who have five or more years experience playing 1st XI cricket,” said club captain Keith Wakeham.

“Those talented youngsters knocking on the door will need to adapt to the demands of 1st XI cricket quickly when they get their chances.

“From what I have seen, they are all capable of doing just that and they will have experienced players around them to support them in making the step up.”

Wakeham said anyone thinking of joining the club shouldn’t think it is a closed shop. New 1st XI players are always welcome – especially a seam-bowling all-rounder.

Overseas help is unlikely to feature at Moor Road in 2018, given the complexities of the new visa system.

Overall, senior player numbers look healthy with the club again fielding three teams on a Saturday, a South Devon League team on Sundays and various friendly and social teams. 

The second team captaincy reverts to Simon Tapley with Alan Boon continuing as 3rd XI skipper. Teenager King takes responsibility for captaining the Sunday league and friendly sides. 

Off the pitch, efforts are focused on a long-term project to replace the 1980s Moor Road clubhouse which, with just two changing rooms, one shared shower area and two toilets, is completely unfit for a club with close to 200 playing members including around 50 women and girls.

Indoor nets will be running at Torquay Boys' Grammar School on a Thursday evening, 8pm to 9.45pm, starting Thursday, March 8.

Membership enquires should be directed to Keith Wakeham on 07540 053 48.