By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
WHIMPLE have opted to give youth a chance by appointing 19-year-old Cameron Kidd as first-team skipper for the season ahead.
Kidd takes over from Gareth Stoneman, whose one and only year as skipper of the C Division East side was the cut-down 2020 season. Kidd started playing softball cricket in Whimple’s juniors aged eight and has been there ever since.
The rookie captain has inherited a strong squad bolstered by a couple of new arrivals and goes into the season proud of his new role and confident of the team’s abilities.
“I'm excited to be leading the team and believe we can compete well in our division,” said Kidd.
“Having come through Whimple’s junior coaching and age-level cricket to become first-team captain, this is a great year for us to encourage new junior players to the club.
“We are lucky to have a couple new players join and some old players starting to play again, which will enable us to have the best 11 representing every weekend.
“If there are any missing players within that squad the standard will not drop at all because of the choices that have opened up within selection to the club this year due to the increase of players.”
Will Greig, who bats and bowls, has arrived from Bradninch and batter Nathan Bright has made the journey from divisional rivals Alphington & Countess Wear.
Whimple are in a tough division that includes the second teams of Premier sides Sidmouth, Exeter and Exmouth. Kidd is relishing the challenge of showing other sides what his men can do.
“The biggest objective for me this year is to push the team to perform to the best of their ability and compete with the top of the league,” said Kidd.
“At the same time we want to keep the fun and exciting vibe you get from a cheerful, talented bunch of cricketers.
Kidd was playing second-team cricket for Whimple as a 12 year old and made his 1stXI debut by the time he was 14 in 2016.
It took a year for Kidd to nail down a permanent place in the 1stXI, but from 2017 onwards the teenage all-rounder has barely missed a game.
He won the Tolchards Devon League young player award in 2018, scoring 593 runs and taking 24 league wickets, and topped that in part in 2019 with 730 league runs at an average of nearly 50.
Premier Division clubs have known about Kidd for a while and he is no stranger to their overtures, all of which he has declined.
Teenage captains are not unheard of in the Devon League – Bovey Tracey’s Toby Codd was one when he was appointed for the 2018 Premier season and South Devon’s James Allen another – but they are the exception rather than the rule.
There has been a lot going on at Whimple during the winter break with two new captains, new nets and a new team.
Duncan McConachie will lead the second team; practice will take place in nets refurbished courtesy of a Sport England Return to Play grant and a combined girls’ age-level section has been created in partnership with neighbours Ottery St Mary.
James Woollam, the club chairman, said there is plenty going on Knowle Cross for players young and old as well as members to get involved in.
“The 2021 season will come at just the right time as we take steps out of lockdown,” said Woollam.
“It can be an important year for juniors, who have had restricted opportunities to play sport as we have a full season of junior-level coaching, All-Stars cricket, and age-level games planned.”
Social activities in the diary include a music festival on September 11, which will be a much-needed fund-raiser, and the annual bonfire and fireworks event on November 6
Junior coaching gets under way at Whimple on Friday, April 23. For more information about the club visit https://whimple.play-cricket.com