Francis wants Gidea Park to avoid another battle to beat the drop in upcoming term
PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 May 2019
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Gidea Park & Romford captain Jamal Francis looks ahead to the new Shepherd Neame Essex League Division One term
Jamal Francis hopes Gidea Park & Romford do not find themselves embroiled in another relegation battle in Shepherd Neame Essex League Division One this season.
Since returning to the second tier two seasons ago, Park have twice finished in eighth place after narrowly beating the drop.
Skipper Francis wants GPR to put those survival skirmishes behind them in the upcoming campaign.
And the Park captain feels he knows the areas where the team must improve if they are to fare better this time around.
“Our form in the one-day games was disappointing and we didn't get many wins in those games last season,” he said.
“We've tried to address that by bringing in players who can be match-winners on their own, which is sometimes what you need in those games.
“We also know we need greater consistency, especially in the timed matches.
“The aim this season is not to be battling relegation, but to be looking a bit further up the table.”
Last season saw big gaps between teams in the table, with GPR finishing 13 points back from seventh-placed Woodford Wells, who in turn were 37 adrift of Upminster in sixth.
That is something, though, Park skipper Francis does not see happening this term, believing the league will be highly competitive.
“If you look at the make-up of the teams in the division this season, it's similar to the line-up in the Premier Division when we were relegated in 2010, so that tells you how tough it will be,” he added.
“Fives & Heronians and Loughton have come up and you always expect them to be strong, while Southend-on-Sea & EMT and Shenfield will be hard to play after being relegated.
“There was a bit of a split in the league last year, but I don't think that will be the case this time.
“We're all on a similar level this season and I think there will be a lot of chopping and changing in terms of positions as the season goes on.”
Ahead of the new campaign, GPR have bolstered their ranks with the addition of wicket-keeper/batsman Umar Ayub from Division Two side Orsett & Thurrock.
And Francis will hope the new man can play his part in a successful season for Park.