Defending champions Clevedon boost squad in bid to retain WEPL crown
PUBLISHED: 11:55 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:17 10 May 2019
Clevedon Cricket Club hope the West of England Premier Cricket League (WEPL) stays in North Somerset this summer.
The first XI won their maiden WEPL crown last season and are out to defend their title, making strong acquisitions.
Kyle Abbott will return to Dial Hill for the season after a deal was agreed with Hampshire for the former South African Test star, while Gloucestershire professional Ben Charlesworth will also be available to skipper Jake Lintott when he is free from county duty, as will the county's all-rounder Ryan Higgins.
Clevedon will not be able to call on the services of key players from last season's success in Graeme Van Buuren and England spinner Dominic Bess, while top-order batsman, Max Curtis, who scored 849 runs last year, has left the club to pursue a career in physiotherapy in Southampton.
But these departures do not faze Lintott, who said: "We are going to give winning the league another shot, it won't be easy because every side will want to beat us but we are more than capable for the challenge.
"Having three professionals to pick from is a huge boost, Ryan knows us from playing here last year, Kyle played here in 2007 and there is a lot of excitement surrounding Ben.
"Kyle is a vastly experienced Test international who has good connections with the club, while Ben is an England under 19 international.
"So I think we are more than capable of retaining the title and have brought some top players in to do so."
Away from the first team, Clevedon also boast a strong junior set-up, with playing numbers increasing year-on-year as training sessions regularly see around 150 youngsters attending.
Lintott claimed Dial Hill saw one of the highest sign-up rates for junior teams in the country last season.
He added: "The club certainly draws a lot of attention on itself now, whether it be from the first team right down to the under-11s, people want to come and play here which is testament to the set-up we've got.
"Seeing so many young cricketers is a great boost for the future, when I first came here we couldn't cater for such a large number of kids training and playing each week, but that shows how far we've come in recent years."
Clevedon began the defence of their WEPL crown with a comfortable six-wicket victory away at Taunton St Andrews on Saturday.
They welcome Bristol to Dial Hill for their first home game of the season tomorrow (Friday).