By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
IPPLEPEN unveiled former Devon big-hitter Neil Hancock as their ‘secret weapon’ in 2020, but it was the ‘Young Turks’ and not the old guard who played a key role in winning the Tier Two title.
Even after four years in retirement and out of the game, Hancock showed with his quickfire ton in the play-off final win over Torquay that he still knows where the boundary is.
Hancock has already confirmed he will be available for the Pens again next season, but longer-term it’s the youngsters coming through the club will be looking for as match-winners in the years ahead.
And that’s why skipper Ashley Harvey has been so pleased to see 13 year olds Toby Holroyd and George Tapley holding their own in the 1st XI this season.
Tapley got in first, clutching the new-ball in his hand, followed by keeper Holroyd for the final few games.
“Our main positive has been seeing our youngsters coming through,” said Harvey.
“Toby and George have given us a glimpse of how much potential there is in the next generation.
"George and Toby both came in and didn't just get by under the radar. They made significant positive contributions to winning games.”
Harvey pointed to the progress of some of the older teenagers in the 1st XI pool as proof Ipplepen are doing something right in development terms.
“Marcus Gadie scored a 1st XI best of 79 in the play off semi-final against Ivybridge and Reuben Stanley turned the final with three important wickets. Match-defining performances.
“Couple that with the many experienced players in the squad and we have a really exciting group coming together for next season.”
Ipplepen did pretty well on the trophy trail as the 2nd XI won the Brockman Cup by beating Lustleigh in the final.
It won’t be long before another batch of youngsters – Olly Holroyd, Josh Thompson, Freddie Harvey and the Sutton brothers – are pushing hard in the 2nd XI for first-team places.