James Guest Confirmed as new First XI Captain

James Guest Confirmed as new First XI Captain

18 Apr 2023

The 2023 campaign marks the start of another new era for Hale Barns Cricket Club as long-serving all-rounder James Guest takes over the First XI captaincy.

Having played in every team from Under-11s to the Firsts, Guest has established himself as an influential part of the club and progressed into a leadership position last season as vice-captain to Luke Skade, who steps down after a year in the role.

Here’s a message from the new HBCC skipper.

James Guest | 1st XI Captain

It’s an honour to take over the captaincy and I’m excited for the season ahead.

I’ve been at the club since I was nine years old – that’s almost 20 years now – and it’s something I hadn’t really thought about before, but now that I’ve been encouraged to take on the role, I’m chomping at the bit to get started.

I think I bloomed quite late as a senior player and I’m proud to be identified as the ideal person to lead the First Team and be club captain.

Captaining a few games last season helped me appreciate how difficult a job it is. I’ve taken tips from the captains that I’ve played under, but I’m also intent on putting my own stamp on how we play and how we conduct ourselves.

I want the lads to believe in their talent. We can beat any side in our division on our day, it’s just down to consistency and we’ve been saying that for a few years now. Hopefully, I can help the lads play with confidence and we can have a successful season.

I’m leading a team with a lot of players who have come through the junior teams and the ones who have come from elsewhere have stayed for a while, so I think we’re a close-knit group who all share the same values on and off the field. Hopefully, that’ll lead to success.

The minimum requirement I want to achieve by the time I step away from the role is to leave the team and the club in a better position than it is now.

I want to see some of the junior players progress and become regular First and Second Team cricketers because we have a great record of that in the current team and that’s crucial for a club of our size.

We finished on a real high last year and played some quality cricket. We beat Stockport Georgians, who were promoted as champions, which underlines the quality that we possess when we apply ourselves properly and play with belief and confidence. I’m looking for us to continue that form and challenge for the top few places in the league. Ultimately, it all comes down to consistency and availability.

There’s been a bit of a shake-up over the winter in terms of members on the committee and there are some new additions that are really keen to be proactive and make a substantial positive change on and off the field. In my opinion, that makes it an exciting time to be part of the club. More volunteers are always welcome!

I’ve had a lot of help from Sanjeev (Bhatia) and Tommy (Smith) in planning for the season ahead and we’re confident with our vision of leading the club forward into the future.

Our overseas player for the season is Johnathon Aikins. He’s a left-handed opening batsman and I’m very excited about him representing the Barns this year. He looks to be a quality player and someone who will maintain our strength at the top of the order.

We lucked out with the fact that Sam Smith has been in Australia playing with him at Caulfield CC throughout the winter. It’s going to be a great benefit to us to get Sam back as an even better cricketer from that experience, as well as the fact they’ve already formed a connection.

We’ve had a couple of departures over the offseason, but that provides an opportunity for others to step up and grab the headlines.

I think someone like Joe Mahon could really help to solidify the top order. Tom Saddington is another who has so much talent and it’s time for him to score big runs this season. I think Younas (Saeed) can really step up to the plate in becoming a leader in the bowling attack and take a lot of wickets. I’m also backing myself to take a more prominent role as a bowler this year.

Hale Barns is a lovely club to be involved with, on and off the pitch. Everyone is welcomed with open arms – there’s a great atmosphere and it’s an amazing place to play and watch cricket.

Players stick around for many years here, and I think that speaks volumes about the ethos of the club. If you’re a keen cricketer, no matter what level of ability, come down to Brooks Drive and experience it for yourself.

For the many non-playing members who have been great supporters of the club over the years, I hope to see you again cheering on the team this season. I’d encourage everyone to try their best to get down to Brooks Drive and make it into a fortress for us.

Here’s to a great season. Up the Barns!