Exciting times for Hales CC
Phil Banyard These are exciting times for Hales, as the first team chase a fourth successive promotion and the club gear up to move into their revamped ground.Steve Rowe's young side top Norfolk Alliance Division Two, having negotiated their way through the top two divisions of the Norfolk League and Alliance Division Three in the last three years.
These are exciting times for Hales, as the first team chase a fourth successive promotion and the club gear up to move into their revamped ground.
Steve Rowe's young side top Norfolk Alliance Division Two, having negotiated their way through the top two divisions of the Norfolk League and Alliance Division Three in the last three years.
They are currently ground-sharing with Norwich at Postwick, but are in the process of developing a new pitch, outfield and pavilion at their existing Hales Green site.
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Having already achieved Focus, Clubmark and Chance to Shine status, Hales are earning a reputation as one of the county's most progressive clubs.
Rowe described chairman Pete Dye and club captain Jon Vale as the “driving force” behind Hales' youth policy - and he believes the first team's flying start is testament to their hard work:
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“Getting five wins out of six is very good, especially in the Alliance where you have winning draws and losing draws,” Rowe said. “It gets a little bit tougher each year because the opposition get better, but because it is such a young side, their development allows them to step up to the better level of cricket.
“That's been key to us progressing through the leagues and coping with the next level. They get a bit bigger and stronger each year and they learn more as they go along.”
As a Focus, Clubmark and Chance to Shine club, Hales would be entitled to employ an overseas player, but it is an option they have so far eschewed.
Rowe said: “At the moment we feel it would be counter-productive, because we would be depriving one of the youngsters of a first team slot.
“Also, with everything we are doing at the moment we would find it difficult to fund. It has been talked about as a possibility next year, but obviously you've got to find the right person who's going to be able to contribute on and off the pitch.
“We feel in a strong position as a club at the moment because we've got where we are with players we have developed.
“There have been some clubs over the last few years who have got themselves into a position in the league they don't deserve to be at, on the back of the performances of their overseas player, but that is not the case with us.”
The first team had to temporarily vacate Hales Green in 2008 to take up their place in the Alliance, as the facilities did not meet league requirements, but it is hoped they will be back at their old home, on a new pitch and outfield, by next season.
Rowe added: “It is an exciting time with the new ground starting to take shape. Norwich have been really good to us, but the bottom line is we want to be playing on our own ground.
“The square is laid and the outfield has been seeded. We've had one or two problems, but the plan is to play there against a President's XI at the end of August.
“That might be touch and go, but obviously our aim is to play there next season.”
Rowe has played at the top level of club cricket in Norfolk and represented the county, but admits he still gets a buzz from his involvement with Hales: “It is a nice way of seeing out your playing days, in a mentoring role,” he said. “Some games I don't get involved beyond doing the captaincy.
“I have a bowl occasionally and I have a bat if we get that far down the order, but quite often my game is just to be captain while the younger lads go off and do their stuff. It's a side of the game I enjoy so I'm quite happy with it.”
w Hales Colts continued their fine start to the season in Division Eight with a 70-run win over Hingham A.
Hales lost two wickets from the first two balls, but recovered to 202, thanks to 65 from Luke Thomas and 46 from Alex Taylor, to give the youngsters their fourth win in six matches.