Dave’s at the Tiller for new era

Dave Tiller. Picture: Mick Young (111840-09)

Dave Tiller. Picture: Mick Young (111840-09)

Hambledon's George Harding batting against St Cross. Picture Ian Hargreaves (170744-1)

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Dave Tiller will begin his reign as Portsmouth & Southsea skipper tomorrow.

The young St James-based outfit host Purbrook in their division one opener (1pm).

And the 38-year-old South African has been given the task of guiding the club back to former glories.

Portsmouth & Southsea narrowly avoided consecutive relegations last term – after dropping out of the third tier of the Southern Electric Premier League in 2010.

Tiller, however, reckons his men are ready to hit back.

‘Last year was a struggle but I am aiming for a top-half finish this time around,’ he said.

‘If things go well we could even get into the top five.

‘We were competitive last year but suffered from a lack of consistency.

‘There were a number of close games that we ended up losing and a lot of that was down to inexperience.

‘It was a steep learning curve for the young lads but now they will be a little bit older and stronger.

‘My role is to keep helping them come through and build on the excellent work done by Dave Chisholm and Tim Jacobs with the colts.

‘There is tremendous potential in the club.’

One youngster attracting attention already is 19-year-old strike bowler Alex Fletcher, who was the leading wicket-taker in division one last season with 36 wickets.

A number of other clubs tried to entice Fletcher away in the close-season but he has remained loyal.

Although studying at Nottingham University, he intends to travel back each weekend.

‘I have been in the game for a long time and played with a number of excellent cricketers,’ said Tiller.

‘Alex is right up there with them for his age.

‘His strengths include consistency and an ability to move the ball away from the right-handed batsmen.

‘He is one I can throw the new ball to. I fielded in the slips last year and took 12 catches off his bowling.

‘It won’t be so easy for him this time around, though, because opponents are now aware of what he can do.’

Tiller is hoping to choose from a settled squad this term and reckons that will be the secret to their hopes.

Fellow South African Ash Wallace – an opening batsman – is ready to make his debut, while seam bowler Dean Wilson returns after spending the past two years abroad.

Portsmouth & Southsea: Dave Tiller, Matt Benfield, Jack Davies, Alex Fletcher, Ash Wallace, Jonathan Willey, Harshvardhan Patel, Rushabh Patel, Lewis Russell, Tom Benfield, Dean Wilson

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