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O'Neill hails work of former Rainham captain Hothi

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:14 02 May 2019

Rainham's Jon O'Neill and Jas Hothi celebrate victory at Ingatestone & Fryerning in 2016 (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Rainham's Jon O'Neill and Jas Hothi celebrate victory at Ingatestone & Fryerning in 2016 (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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The all-rounder has stepped up to replace the opening batsman for the 2019 campaign

New Rainham captain Jon O'Neill has paid tribute to predecessor Jas Hothi, who has stepped down as skipper of the Spring Farm Park club.

Under the tenure of Hothi, the team went from strength to strength and they are now firmly part of the Mid-Essex League Premier Division.

It is a far cry from back in 2014 when Rainham third from bottom in Division Two and won just six out of 18 games that year.

Long-serving O'Neill has been by Hothi's side for the whole journey and is looking forward to continuing his good work this season - their second in the top flight.

“Jas has done brilliantly to get us where we are and he took over the captaincy in quite weird circumstances,” he said.

“He stepped up for the club and took on the role and made it his own. He has advanced Rainham forward, so from my perspective taking over will be evolution, not revolution.

“I will not be making loads of changes. I think he has done a fantastic job and I have supported him through that as his vice-captain.”

Opening batsmen Hothi is still part of the team and will look to contribute with the bat even more this season.

He will help O'Neill out, but Rainham's vice-captain for 2019 is the talented Ronnie Jackson, who has been at the club for several years.

During the previous term, all three played a big role in the then-division new boys impressing in the top flight and coming an impressive fifth.

“I have Ronnie to support me because he will be my vice-captain. He won Young Player of the Year last season so he has great potential,” O'Neill explained.

“He is a club lad and we are delighted to have that type of talent within the club to call upon and make vice-captain.

“I will delegate a lot of on-field responsibilities to him because he has an amazing cricket brain and I see myself as more of an ambassador for the club and that is why I have stepped in to the role, but I have a cricket brain myself!

“Luckily we have a lot of cricketing brains in the team and I will be looking to tap into that myself, but Jas has done a fantastic job over the years and I express my gratitude to him for that.”

Rainham get their campaign underway on Saturday away to Old Chelmsfordians, looking to start the Premier Division with a victory.

O'Neill added: “I don't mind our start to the season. I love going to OC. It is a lovely ground and with a good pitch.

“To be fair it will be a much better pitch than ours at this stage of the year because it can be tough to bat at our place.

“Having said that, we have invested in our facilities this season, the pitch has been worked on quite thoroughly during the winter and we have invested in mowers as well.

“Our outfield has been long for the last few years, especially early in the season, but now we can control that, so it will be a much better experience playing at Spring Farm Park.

“We have to play every side home and away this year so the order doesn't worry me too much and we are looking forward to one of our more preferred fixtures first up.”

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