Mzaidume to ignite Holmesdale's attack
HOLMESDALE will be hoping 2012 can reap more rewards than last year's campaign – when they were relegated from Kent Division Two for the first time in years.
In 2011 they finished with four wins, four draws, and 11 losses in the league.
But Dale and second-year captain Mark Epps are looking to regroup, buoyed by the benefits a season of experience gave their youngsters, who he insists will be much better prepared for the new campaign.
"We had a very young side last season – but it was still disappointing," said Epps. "It wasn't like we were smashed in every game. We finished a number of games on the wrong side of close matches. But we would have learned a lot from it.
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"Our university boys are showing more discipline and maturity every time I see them play. There's a vibe around the place and a good feeling amongst the team – more than any of my recent seasons.
"It's great to be more stable going into this campaign after the captain went back to Australia at the start of the last."
Epps is hoping the Dale bowling attack has been sharpened during the off-season.
Siphe Mzaidume, a new overseas player from South Africa training with Northamptonshire, has been working at indoor facilities alongside fellow Dale opening bowler Peter Grove. The African played for the well-known Border province academy in his homeland and, combined with Grove, Epps feels it's a partnership likely to strike fear into the oncoming batsmen.
"He is mean, fast, and hopefully will shake a few of them up," said the captain. "Apparently he can bowl at around 80mph.
"He's been working along with Grove indoors since February. They are both brutally quick – and the team is quite excited about it."
Epps also hopes fortunes will be changed by new appointments in management. Dale have a new chairman, Tony Rose, and a new treasurer, Robert Bryant.
"This year things look a lot more promising and a lot more focused," said Rose.
"Rather than the peripheral activities going on, hopefully we can look at the cricket – what we are all there for.
"It was a development year in 2012, but Mark did a great job bringing the youngsters on."
"My objectives are always first to win some cricket. The way we go about the game is most important. We need to keep building that team ethos and spirit. It's great now and it will continue onto the pitch."
This season's opener is away to Addington on Saturday.