Pictured: Luke Medlock, tipped as a future Paignton captain<br>credit: Conrad Sutcliffe

PAIGNTON’S new captain Mark Orchard is a man with a plan he hopes will win Devon cricket’s top prize for the first time in nearly two decades.

The last time Paignton won the Premier Division title in the Tolchards Devon Cricket League was way back in 2005 when, under the captaincy of Neil Hancock, they beat Exmouth into second place.

Hancock’s 50 wickets and 529 league runs helped deliver the title to Queen’s Park for only the second time in the club’s history.

Paignton had a near miss behind Heathcoat in 2019 under George Benton and were second again in 2021, although not so close.

Orchard knows a thing or two about winning silverware – he was in the Exmouth team that did the Premier Division and Senior Cup double in 2013 – and has mapped out a plan to turf Heathcoat off top spot.Mark Orchard, who will be leading Paignton 1stXI in 2021

“We're looking to back the youngsters and build,” said Orchard. 

“We've got some really talented young lads who are ready to step-up and keep improving their game, which will aid the side going in the right direction.

“These lads are quality cricketers and they will be ready to take on more responsibility and thrive under it.

“They know they will have key roles in the side, and what a great opportunity it is, and that I will be backing them every step of the way.

Heathcoat have set the standard over the last few years so we know where we have to get to and I have every confidence we'll do it our way.”

Orchard, who will be 32 when the 2022 season starts, is an experienced player who has represented Devon and captained former club Brixham. His number two is Luke Medlock, who is being fettled for the day when he is Paignton skipper.

“Luke is a talented cricketer with a great cricket brain and is a future captain of Paignton CC,” said Orchard.

“As a vice-captain he is a superb choice as he will have a valued input without having all the pressure on him as he develops his game further.”

Connor Bryan, a former Paignton captain himself, is in the middle of completing his level three coaching qualification and will be Paignton’s head coach next year.

“He will be working with the lads on their development as well,” said Orchard.

Although Paignton have lost a number of players since the 2021 season ended, including their first and second team captains, they already have next summer’s overseas player in place.

Divyaansh Saxena, an Indian under-19 international, is on the way to Queen’s Park for a stint.

The 20-year-old all-rounder, who bats left handed and bowls left AND right-arm spin, has skippered Mumbai under-19s and represented India under-19s in the 2019 World Cup.

Career highlights so far for Saxena include: 

[O] A double hundred for Mumbai under-19s against Delhi

[O] 122 against South Africa under-19s on his international debut

[O] An undefeated 128 against Zimbabwe under-19s and

[O] A batting average of 53.35 in all under-19 internationals

Said Orchard: “Divyaansh is a talented cricketer and it’s great news he's agreed to sign. He is going to fit in with the club at this current time perfectly.”

Terry Farkins, the director of cricket at Paignton, is on the lookout for new players to fill the gaps left by the departed.

“We are feeling positive about filling a couple more positions before we start the season,” Farkins.

Referring to the players who won’t be at Queen’s Park next season, Farkins said: “We wish the lads who have left all the very best and hope they start to enjoy their cricket again.”

Veteran seam bowler Stephen George has taken over as Paignton’s 2nd XI captain from Tom Blundell, who has returned to Brixham.

Sam Simcox will lead the 3rd XI with a brief to develop young players and remain competitive.

Nick Glanfield will continue as fourth team skipper, blending social and development cricket at a sustainable level.