Alton Cricket Club will start 2018 with a sense of optimism buoyed by the arrival of a world record holder.
The Brewers have announced a major coup with overseas signing Marco Marais flying in from South Africa as the proud owner of the fastest ever triple century in first class cricket.
Marais (24), a hard hitting middle order batsman, and useful medium pacer, blasted a mammoth 300 not out from just 191 balls for his province Border against Eastern Province. The performance, and weight of runs in the South African summer earned him a call up to franchise side Warriors late in the season.
In 2017 Alton’s batting was hit and miss – so having Marais experience, which includes stints in UK club cricket, and his explosive power should bring consistency and confidence to the rest of the top order.
Scott Myers continues to take the reigns of the first-team, and will hope to continue his run-scoring exploits. Dan Harris also showed potential and will look to improve in his second season.
Alton also boast England Disability Cricket’s Hammond brothers, with Alex a hard-hitting top order batsman and Hugo arriving in the first team with the wicket keepers gloves.
The evergreen Heffernan brothers will also look to score useful runs in what promises to be a powerful batting line up.
Abhay Gonella starts his second season at Alton having been called in to the Hampshire under 17 squad.
The bowling stocks have undergone something of a change, with last years overseas pro Sean Jamison returning to South Africa.
Work commitments also mean the loss of leg-spinner Jack Myers, who has moved to Dorking.
Veteran Julian Ballinger will continue to tempt opposition batsmen with his wily off-spin, while the seaming stocks are made up by Ben Mortimer, Toby and Michael Salmon and – depending on recovery from injury – Dan Scott.
Alton’s 2nd XI were unfortunate to be relegated from Southern Premier Div 3 last term, despite a respectable won 6, lost 9 record.
Lee Partner will take charge of the side that looks to give experience to talented youngsters in Hampshire division 1.
The 3rd XI continue in Hampshire League 4 north, led by Ian Mason, while Martin Green will round up his charges in the 4th XI as they look for promotion in the I’Anson league.
Alton Ladies are looking forward to the new season in Hampshire League Division 1 after a dominant season gave them promotion last time around. Their side includes members of various Hampshire squads, whose under 15 girls won the national championship in 2017.
Behind the scenes there have been changes too, with Richard Myers successful tenure as Chairman coming to an end, with Graeme Hughes taking up the reins.
New sponsors have been signed to support the club, including Bubbles Bathrooms in Basingstoke (https://www.bubblesbathrooms.net/) and the Golden Pheasant in Farringdon (http://www.farringdon.biz/pubs/Pheasant.htm).
A-plan insurance continue to be a main sponsor alongside shirt sponsor Worldham Golf Club.
Alton CC are forever grateful for those local businesses that provide backing and also to Alton Town Council for their continued support – and encourage players and supporters to reciprocate.
Pre-season fixtures have been slightly delayed by the weather but will start on 21st April as Alton travel to Sussex to meet Ifield CC. The league season then commences on 5th May.
Alton also host the young Hampshire Academy prospects in the T20 competition on 10th June. However, prior to that, there is the small matter of the postponed 2017 final against Havant, which will take place on 20th May
* Alton are always keen to attract new members and sponsors. Senior training is Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6pm at Jubilee Fields – all are welcome. If you have an interest in sponsorship opportunities, please contact us via https://www.altoncc.co.uk/about/contact-us/
* Youngsters interesting in coming to try out cricket are welcome to come to a Friday night session, 6pm at Jubilee Fields, starting on 27th April. Alton will also be running the ECB All-Stars cricket again in 2018. Marco Marais, the overseas player, will be leading the sessions, starting on 16th May for 8 weeks.
Alton CC also are the only local club to continue to run a hugely popular and successful schools programme, delivering coaching sessions in the area to youngsters from 9 local Primary Schools during the Summer term time.