By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
TORQUAY have started rebuilding for the future after the disappointment of relegation from the Premier league this season.
It has been a tough close season so far with a clutch of players heading for the exit at the Recreation Ground, the latest being last season’s captain George Allen, who has joined arch rivals Paignton.
Tim Western, the director of cricket at Torquay, said rather than mope over what has happened now is the time to start planning ahead.
And Western revealed that former player and 1stXI captain Mike Pugh is returning to the club in a new role as team manager.
“We have taken time after the season finished to work up one, three and five-year plans for the club,” said Western.
“It was obviously sad to not maintain our Premier status, but performances and the depth of the squad made it difficult to compete in what is a competitive league.
'To assist in the recalibration of the senior playing side of the club and delivery of our plans, we approached Mike Pugh.
“We are delighted that Mike has accepted the opportunity to come back to the club where he played more than 200 1st XI games, winning two Premier titles.
“Mike is an excellent motivator and coach. This combined with his passion for the club over many years makes him the best person to help develop the club right now.”
Pugh made his name as a young cricketer with Abbotskerswell more than 30 years ago before stepping up to Premier cricket at the Recreation Ground.
Over the years he has had spells with Abbotskerswell, Babbacombe and most recently Bovey Tracey, but remained a popular figure at Torquay.
Pugh is a cricket realist and had a good look at the Torquay blueprint before deciding to return.
“The club has had time to evaluate and now has a one, three and five-year plan moving forwards,” said Pugh.
“With this vision, and full support from the committee, I agreed to take up this development role at Torquay.”
Torquay still have a clutch of next-generation cricketers on their books despite the close-season departures. Pugh said taking a step backwards might be a positive step in the long run.
“The experience gained by the younger players in the Premier last year will be massively beneficial,” said Pugh.
“There are good opportunities in A Division for these players to grow as cricketers.”
Western, one of the senior coaches in Devon, hopes to have more time this summer to work with his home-town club following changes to the county’s developing player programme.
“With the introduction of the new Devon Cricket Academy, I will have more time to coach the club’s players and support Mike in his new role,” said Western.
“My involvement with the Devon Lions over the past nine years, working closely with the best emerging talent in the county, has expanded my coaching skills and experience.”