CRICKET: Spinner Phillips leads Banbury

Oxford Mail: Off-spinner Jimmy Phillips takes over at the helm for Banbury Off-spinner Jimmy Phillips takes over at the helm for Banbury

Jimmy Phillips has targeted the Serious Cricket Home Counties Premier League title after being elected as the new Banbury captain.

The 29-year-old off-spinner succeeds Ian Hawtin, who retired from the game at the end of last season after four years as skipper.

Phillips was vice-captain to both Hawtin and his predecessor, Benji Hector.

During that time he had numerous chances to lead the side, which he feels will stand him in good stead to take over at the helm.

“I am really pleased,” said Phillips, who will have new Oxfordshire skipper Luke Ryan as his vice-captain.

“I feel personally it is something I have been building towards for a long while.

“I have been really lucky to play under Benji and Ian.

“They were two very different captains, but very effective in their own way.

“They had two second-place finishes and a couple of Oxfordshire Cups as well.

“They were both successful and there were plenty of opportunities to learn from them as well, and now I want to go one better in terms of winning the league.”

Phillips expects Banbury – who were last champions in the league’s first season in 2000 – to have a similar side to the one which finished runners-up to High Wycombe last season.

But in a bid to bridge the gap they have recruited Paul Atkins, the former Surrey batsman, who has played for Tring Park and Chearsley in recent seasons, as club coach.

Phillips believes Atkins, who will also be joint captain with Andrew Sabin of the 2nd XI where it is hoped he will bring on the club’s emerging players, will have a major influence on the 1st XI.

He said: “That is a decision we have taken instead of spending money on an overseas cricketer.

“I think that is going to benefit us in terms of having professional training sessions and preparing for the games.

“We need an extra five per cent to win the league and that’s what we hope he can give us.”

Reflecting on last year’s battle to catch High Wycombe, Phillips added: “They had a fair-sized cushion.

“When we beat them at Banbury we gave ourselves half a chance, but it got too big from the very strong start they had.

“We played some good cricket to win games and we drew two where sides were nine down and one where they were eight down, so in some ways we were not that far away.”

Phillips took 37 wickets last year and his combination with Ryan, who picked up 46 wickets with his left-arm spin, was pivotal to Banbury’s strong season.

“We are obviously lucky to have Luke at Banbury,” added Phillips.

“In my opinion he is probably the most unlucky cricketer I have played with in terms of not making it as a pro because he has such a professional attitude and because of his ability.”

On the batting front, Nathan Hawkes, who is currently in Melbourne, was Banbury’s leading run-scorer last term with 667 runs and Phillips expects him to be to the fore again.

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