Middlesex County League Division Two preview: Hornsey

Hornsey batsman Chetan Patel believes the appointment of Paul Weekes as captain is a huge boost to their promotion prospects.

Veteran all-rounder Weekes, who spent 17 years in county cricket with Middlesex, takes over from Garfield Struthers as skipper of the Tivoli Road club this season.

Hornsey’s promotion push fizzled out last year and they eventually slid to sixth place, but Patel – a former captain of the side – expects them to mount a stronger challenge this time.

“For the last four or five years we’ve only had Weekesy available for the second half of the season,” said Patel. “To have him playing every league game should make a big difference.

“We’ve also recruited well over the winter and he’s going to have some selection issues, which is a great position for the club to be in.

“There’s a younger feel to the team – in our first cup game last week, six of our Under-17s were playing in the first team, which is excellent. We’re starting to see the fruits of all the work that parents and volunteers have put in over the last decade.

“We’ve got huge ambition to return to the Premier Division and I fully expect us to be in the mix again.”

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Hornsey – who are again sponsored by N4 Gas and Crouch End estate agents Greene & Co – have lost just one member of last season’s squad, with Ed Wharton opting to play closer to his home in Royston.

However, they have brought in 17-year-old all-rounder Joe Emmanuel from Finchley, as well as left-arm spinner Johnny Fawcett, who has moved from Cheshire.

Jamie Harris, an opening batsman and leg-spinner from the MCC Young Cricketers programme, also joins the club, while New Zealander Sean Solia returns as overseas player after a successful first season.

Division Two follows the top-flight model by introducing a new structure this season, with the first five and last four fixtures of the schedule to be played as 45-over matches.

Hornsey open their campaign at Brondesbury – who just missed out on promotion last year – and Patel added: “I think we’re certainly playing one of the stronger teams first up.

“Finchley would be backing themselves to go straight back up as well, but I think what the change to the format will do is make the league more open.

“Half the games are limited-overs, so you always get a result and now you have to walk onto the field with at least five bowlers. All our signings bowl, so I feel we’ve got good depth and the clubs with greater depth are going to fare better.”

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