South African influence could work magic for Middleton

New faces have arrived at Middleton '“ and the club hope they can mark the start of an exciting era for the club.

Rob Maier, a former South African schools under-19 cricketer and now an outstanding ECB level-three coach, has joined to work principally with the club’s senior sides – and another South African, Nikolai Smith, has arrived as their oversea player.

Maier has worked with Middlesex CCC since 2004, coaching a range of junior squads up to and including their emerging player programme. He has also been under-15 head coach at Harrow School and head coach of Ealing CC’s academy.

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Secretary Ian Burrows said: “At Middleton we have a very young side and we hope that a coach with Rob’s background and experience will be invaluable to the development of those players.

“The work he will be doing with the players is as much to do with preparation and approach to games as coaching technique - getting the players to think more about their roles in the side and how their role in the game changes as the game develops.

“He has already obtained the respect of the players through his approach and coaching points and has really motivated the players for the coming season.”

Smith, meanwhile, is a promising young player from Cape Town who has excelled playing for Bishops School over the past two years - taking 49 wickets and scoring 500 runs this season.

He plays club cricket for Claremont in the Western Province Cricket League. He has just broken into first-grade cricket.

Middleton hope both new arrivals can help them win the league under captain Brandon Hanley after they finished third in division three west last summer.

The club’s recent successes are demonstrated by news that eMiddleton bowler Jamie Thompson is now a first-class cricketer. He has played for Oxford UCCE Academy and has had trials with various counties over the winter.

Meanwhile, Middleton’s colts have had a succesful winter with good numbers training at Arundel indoor nets. Training will continue throughout the summer on Monday evenings.

The club’s under-12 and under-ten indoor teams performed well, with the tens winning their league in a close battle with Arundel CC.

Success in Western Warrior representative squads has been achieved with three under-ten players selected - Ben Taylor, Sam Bell and Matthew Bellamy. At under-11 Jack Dawling has been selected, plus Toby Macer at under-15.

Girls’ coaching took at Bishop Tufnell and Downview junior schools through the Chance to Shine scheme. This will continue throughout the summer term and there will be coaching during curriculum time with Years 4 and 5. Walberton School and Southway School also participate in Chance to Shine.

A new girls’ section has been started at Middleton and they are keen to hear from any girls wanting to try cricket.

Teams have been entered into various age groups of the west area leagues - under-nine, under-ten, under-12 and under-16.