Time to steady the ship at Hambledon

Rob Atkins bats at OTs & Romsey last weekend. Picture: Terence Jamieson
Rob Atkins bats at OTs & Romsey last weekend. Picture: Terence Jamieson
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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Rob Atkins is looking to help Hambledon through a tricky transitional period.

The skipper has been promoted from his role as vice captain after Ian Turner’s decision to step down before last weekend’s Southern Electric Premier League division two game against OTs & Romsey.

Over the past few seasons, there have been lots of changes at Ridge Meadow.

Last summer’s demotion from division one because of their pitch grading prompted the exits of more first-team players.

The result is a period of rebuilding, with less experienced members of the club being asked to step up.

It is something that excites Atkins – although he knows the Dons must be patient.

The skipper said: ‘We are now in a period of transition.

‘I have no problem with that – all clubs go through it now and again.

‘We have promoted a handful of players from our second team and asked others to take on new roles.

‘They may have played plenty of cricket but they have little or no experience at Southern League level.

‘They are all very talented lads, though, and it is a great opportunity.

‘The best thing myself and the remaining senior players can do is create an environment where they feel welcome and supported as they find their feet.

‘That started with Turns and, hopefully, I can keep it going.

‘The results won’t be instant but if we are smart and play to our strengths, we can certainly compete this season.’

Demotion came as a big blow to Hambledon – particularly following a period of change both on and off the field at Ridge Meadow.

Former skipper Dan Hewitt and opening batsman Joe Collings-Wells left for Burridge, while all-rounder Cameron Prentice opted to join Havant after a spell in Australia.

Atkins said: ‘It’s not so long ago we lost three key members of the committee in David Mills, Chris de Mellow and Phil Tusler.

‘They were huge supporters of Hambledon and any club would miss their input, particularly off the pitch.

‘And then you have the on-field stuff.

‘First-team players like James Scutt and Rory Prentice left in 2013.

‘We then lost the services of people like James Atkinson, Toby de Mellow, JJ Brown and Nick Scutt through a mixture of work, family and studies.

‘And last season’s demotion saw Dan Hewitt, Joe Collings-Wells and Cameron Prentice look elsewhere for their cricket.

‘When you break it down like that, over the course of a few seasons we have shipped enough players to field a pretty decent silver league team!’

Hambledon were second-from-bottom in division two prior to this afternoon’s visit of Fawley to Ridge Meadow.