Pearson excited by bright prospects
SEVENOAKS Vine CC's captain Karl Pearson insists last year's successful season was only what was expected as he prepares for a run on the title this season.
Last year was Pearson's first as captain since moving from Gore Court and Vine won the Clark's trophy and almost completed the most unlikely of doubles when they put themselves in the shake-up for the championship with a few games remaining.
This time 12 months ago he told the Chronicle he was looking for a top-three finish – something that smelt a little of newcomer brashness, as it hadn't been achieved for a number of years.
His prediction fell just short with defeat dropping them from second to fifth on the final day, but cup success softened the blow.
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"I'm coming to the end of my premier league career," said Pearson. "So now it's about bringing on some of the younger Oaks players and taking them on to the next level.
"Last year it wasn't an injection of new players that improved us. We got more organised – and I want that to continue. We turned up to games earlier, warmed-up properly, and this year we've entered some extra cups, including the national competition.
"Our aim is to make a reasonable start – utilising some of the fringe players – and then, when we are at full strength, see what we are capable of."
Pearson's side will be joined later in the summer by younger players not currently in Sevenoaks. Nailing down the youngsters for their first team ambitions has always proved significant in determining success.
Luke Blackaby, in his third year at Durham MCCU, will return in July after a successful start to his season saw the all-rounder on a combined team who toured the United Arab Emirates and, since returning, rack up a rising tally of runs and wickets.
And the man they call the English Muralitharan, Sevenoaks original Maurice Holmes, is also due to return from his Warwickshire county duties, along with Tom Parsons, another young player under contract at Middlesex, as their opening bowler.
"We are still a young side and that's what excites me," said Pearson. "Except me and John Bowden, the average age must be about 20."
And management secretary Gavan Burden was similarly hopeful regarding the campaign, which kicks off away to Bexley on Saturday.
"We had an excellent go last season," he said. "Karl marshalled and led the side extremely well."