HOWZAT: Richard Brabner hopes Harold Wood begin well in Essex League Division One, before baby arrives!
PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 April 2017
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The experienced bowler is expecting his first child at the end of June and is set to hand over the captaincy to Shahbaz Khan for the rest of the season
Harold Wood captain Richard Brabner believes a strong start in the Essex League Division One could be key to their promotion ambitions this season.
Wood finished in third place last year and were just four points off second-placed Southend, who went up instead, alongside Upminster, to the Premier Division.
And after a slow start in 2016, Brabner is determined to see his side get off to a flyer this time around.
He said: “We were hoping we would be in contention last season, but we didn’t win any of our first four games.
“It was a difficult start and then we picked up some momentum. If we could have won one or two of our opening matches then we probably would have got promoted.
“We were good for two-thirds of the year, so we know we need to start well this time and hit the ground running.
“Our aim is to try and get promoted. The minimum requirement is for us to be in with a shout of promotion going into the last few games of the season.”
Another reason why Wood could do with starting strongly is because Brabner is going to be preoccupied for the second half of the campaign.
The experienced bowler is expecting his first child at the end of June and is set to hand over the captaincy to Shahbaz Khan for the months of July, August and September.
Wood will also have all-rounder Hamzah Ikram in their ranks this season to boost their options with bat and ball, with Brabner adding: “Shahbaz is only medium pace, but he bowls so accurately.
“He always gets you 30-plus wickets and over 500 runs. He is Mr Consistent and a good voice in the dressing room and a leader out on the pitch as well.
“With my own situation, I will be around for the start of the season, but missing for a lot of the second half.
“It was important we got Hamzah in as well and I think we have all the ingredients to have a really good season and be challenging for promotion again.”
The return of Ikram is a major positive for Wood following his solitary season in Suffolk with Mildenhall.
He scored over 450 runs in both 2014 and 2015 for the Essex club and also picked up over 20 wickets in both campaigns.
“Everybody is really excited about getting started and we’ve brought Hamzah back,” said experienced bowler Brabner.
“He left before the start of last season and played in Suffolk for a year, but is with us again and is able to open the bowling and bat inside the top six, so he’s a great addition.”
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