New-look North Devon raring to go

09:24 30 April 2014

North Devon batsman Barney Huxtable, who is being tipped to top 500 league runs this season by skipper Matt Westway.

North Devon batsman Barney Huxtable, who is being tipped to top 500 league runs this season by skipper Matt Westway.

Archant

NORTH Devon’s new captain Matt Westaway isn’t sticking his neck out going into the new season, which starts on Saturday with a home game against Exeter.

Westaway, who previously led the side between 2008-2009, has taken over from Matt Dart as 1st XI captain,

The side Westaway will lead this season has a number of significant differences to the one Dart had.

Zimbabwean all-rounder Glen Querl has gone – he is with Cheshire League side Oxton this season – and South African U19 star Jason Smith isn’t coming back.

Left-hander Dan Bowser, always good for a few runs in the early order, is sidelined by a knee injury will need surgery.

It hasn’t been one-way traffic though as there have been several signings too.

Much-travelled Ed Yeo – Braunton, Barnstaple, Exmouth and Torquay – has hooked up with his old B&P team-mate Westaway once more.

“I am glad to have Ed as on his day he can massively influence the outcome of matches,” said Westaway.

Tom Allin, who went to Warwickshire in 2008 as a raw fast bowler, returned to towards the end of last summer and now looks a different player.

“He still bowls pretty quickly, but is a far better batsman now from his time at Warwickshire and I am looking forward to having him around all season,” said Westaway.

Overseas aid comes from teenage pacer Jack Pudney, who has played for South Australia at U17 and U19 level.

It looks pretty good on paper for the Instow side, but Westaway remains cautious.

Querl has been a cornerstone of the side for most of the last three seasons and it is up to other players to fill in the gaps he leaves.

“The smart money has to be on Exmouth winning it again as they only look stronger than last season,” said Westaway.

“That is not to say we can’t form a challenge as we can, but I am a realist so ask me again around mid-season.

“We need players to step up this season and start turning potential into performances.

“Barney Huxtable, Max Curtis and Jas Kalsi all have ability to score 500-600 runs a season.

“They need to feature heavily in the top five this season.”

Westaway is also considering a new role for Rob Gear, who has been lurking in the middie-order for a while.

“The way Rob bats is ideal for the powerplays now in the Premier Division and we would like to move him up the order,” said Westaway.

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