HEATHCOAT’S new captain Peter Randerson doesn’t want to hang about this season.
Former skipper Brad Barnes led Heathcoat to third in the Premier table last season – the team’s best finish in the top flight since they joined the league in 1978.
Heathcoat only won two of their first six games and spent the rest of the season playing catch-up. It proved too tall an order.
Sidmouth went on to win the division with Exeter second and Heathcoat ten points further behind.
Sidmouth – champions for six of the past nine years – are inevitably the team to beat again this season.
Randerson, who won titles with Sidmouth in 2012 and 2014 before returning to Heathcoat, knows what it takes to be Devon’s top dogs.
According to Randerson, two wins in the first six games won’t do it.
“We are notoriously slow starters at Heathcoat and you can’t afford that,” said Randerson.
“If we come through the first six games with three or four wins, we should do ok this season.
“A positive start is essential which is why we have put a bit more into pre-season, with tough games against the likes of University of Exeter.
“If you struggle from the start it is hard to get all your players involved and part of what you are trying to achieve.
“With a winning start there is a snowball effect that builds momentum in playing and practising.”
Something else that should get momentum building are Heathcoat’s two winter signings: Jackson Thompson and J J Smit.
Thompson, who lives in nearby Uffculme, is well known around the Devon League for his stints as match-day pro with Bradninch (2013) and Cornwood (2014-16). His 222 for Bradninch against Budleigh is still a Premier Division record.
Randerson hopes Thompson will make up most of the 728 league runs scored by Barnes last season.
Visa problems prevented Barnes coming over from South Africa to play for Heathcoat this summer.
Smit’s name won’t be too familiar to Devon cricket watchers just yet, but is well known on the ICC Trophy circuit with Namibia.
Smit, who is 21 in November, bowls left-arm quick and knows which way round to hold a bat.
He has played 70 First Class and List A games for Namibia and has a one-day ton to his name.
Other new faces at Knightshayes include left-arm seamer Gillam Crouch from Thorverton and batter Reid Mawdsley, ex-of Torquay.
Dinesh Raheja, who has been a back-up all-rounder with Heathcoat for a couple of seasons, signed for South Devon after the transfer deadline and is set to make his debut in the 2nd XI against Bovey Tracey 3rd XI.