Howzat: Gidea Park & Romford CC chase Essex League promotion

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 May 2016

Jamal Francis in bowling action for Gidea Park & Romford (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Jamal Francis in bowling action for Gidea Park & Romford (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Captain Jamal Francis targetting success at Gallows Corner

Gidea Park & Romford captain Jamal Francis hopes a stronger all-round team set-up will help achieve promotion this year.

Park finished fourth in 2015, some 86 points behind second-placed Billericay, but Francis saw grounds for optimism, albeit not on a regular basis.

He said: “We made strides last year, but it was difficult finding consistency.

“As it went on we worked out what our strengths were and played to them more and got results at some difficult grounds.

“If a couple of other results had gone our way maybe we could’ve pushed for promotion, but I’m pleased with the groundwork we’ve done and we want to kick on this year.

“The ambition is promotion. We’ve made hard work of it the last couple of years, scratching around a bit, but we’ve all got to rebuild at some time.

“With people coming in and the hunger I’ve seen, we’re well on the way.”

Batting all-rounder Greg Hammond is one new face, joining from the Middlesex League, with others recruited from the east London area.

And Francis says there is a spring in the step of members, as the Gallows Corner club looks to return to former glories.

He added: “We’re putting an emphasis on getting good club men who are committed.

“There’s been good commitment at winter nets and I’m happy with the new guys and will get them involved.

“It’s a shame we haven’t been able to get outdoors too much, but we’re looking forward to the season.

“It’s about getting the balance between experienced and younger players to complement each other.”

Veteran Russ Collard, who led Park to the Premier Division title in 2002 and a runners-up spot a year later, remains a key member of the side and Francis hopes vice-captain George Rogers and overseas Shawn Findlay can improve further.

“Russ is still keen, the first one at training and still looks as good as ever,” he said.

“George had a few good scores last year and wants more responsibility this year as vice-captain.

“Shawn is back and we’re looking for good performances from him this year. He took a bit of time to adjust last year, but a lot of us didn’t take full responsibility.”

Francis (463), Findlay (437) and Sam Hewitt (419) led the way with the bat in 2015, as Findlay (29) and Collard (17) shone with the ball.

But the emphasis is on more players doing more for the side to make it a real team effort, with Francis adding: “Individual performances got us to where we were, but if we can all contribute as a team and stick to our jobs, we can be there or thereabouts.

“A settled side will contribute to a steady season. Everyone knows what they’re doing and we’re all on the same page.”

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