Rainham on the up as skipper targets another successful season
16:14 29 January 2014
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Rainham Cricket Club are on the upafter three consecutive promotions, their skipper James Fuller says.s
The first team celebrated their third consecutive promotion last season.
They’ll start next season in Division Two of the Mid Essex Cricket League and according to Fuller, the secret of their success has youth at its heart.
The 26-year-old, who lives in Rainham, said: “Over the past five years our youth system has really started to flourish.
“The average age for the firsts next season will be 22/23 and when these guys are 25/26 they’ll have a lot of experience and the team will reap the benefits.
“I’m the second or third oldest in the team and probably one of the youngest captains in the league.
“It’s really enjoyable at the moment. The players are passionate and dedicated which makes my job a lot easier.”
The 2014 season will be a step up in class for Rainham but Fuller, who has been at the club for eight seasons, has not ruled out another promotion.
The club’s talented West Indian Garnet Shallow has returned home but leg spinner Rob Holton has joined from Caterham while Rainham have high hopes for prodigious 14-year-old Ronnie Jackson.
“First of all we’ll be looking to consolidate and maybe a promotion push – there’s a lot of confidence in the dressing room at the moment,” said Fuller.
“We’ve got massive momentum behind us. There’s been a change in mentality since I’ve been here, I’ve tried to freshen up the place and increase competition for places.
“When I joined I went straight into the first team. There was a small group of us who shared the same dream and we built up the club.
“We exceeded our goals far quicker than we thought we would.
“People back me and we’re seeing the rewards.”
The youthful nature of the team has resulted in a harmonious dressing room which has seen the players perform on the big occasion.
Last season Rainham secured a nerve-wracking final game victory over Springfield to pick up the four points needed for promotion.
While acknowledging the team effort, captain Fuller reserved special praise for all rounder Jon O’Neill.
He was Rainham’s highest wicket taker with 36 in his second full season at the club as well as being a powerful middle order batter with an explosive strike rate of 135 runs per 100 balls.
“He’s a bit unorthodox but he was a diamond last season,” said Fuller.
“We’re looking in good shape for next season. The coaching structure at the club is excellent and it’s helping the players improve all the time.”
The seconds have also won three successive promotions while the first team’s ultimate goal is to play First Division and Premier League cricket – an achievable aim according to the commissioning engineer.
“When I started we were a bit of a laughing stock,” he said. “But teams take us seriously now and we’re good enough to go up against the likes of Upminster and Hornchurch.”