10:58am Friday 26th April 2013
BARNARDS Green continue their meteoric rise with an opening trip to Birmingham and District Premier Cricket League Division One big boys Moseley tomorrow (noon).
The Malvern outfit have celebrated six promotions in seven years, culminating in second spot in Division Two last year.
But the new season presents plenty of challenges with renowned opponents like Old Hill, Smethwick, Leamington and Bromsgrove as well as multiple league champions Moseley.
Green have responded with a string of ambitious signings, including ex-Gloucestershire and Essex all-rounder Mark Hardinges, 35, who is now cricket master at Malvern College.
Worcestershire fast bowler Graeme Cessford, 29, on a year’s leave from the RAF, has joined following plenty of Minor Counties experience.
Young West Australian Alex Hepburn from Perth, a top-order batsman, has arrived at North End Lane and should also figure for the county seconds.
Off-spinner Blair Kingsland, who has been playing in Zimbabwe recently, has also signed along with county academy player Alex Milton from Worcester Nomads.
A spokesman said: “The cricket committee are keen to enable Green to maintain their status in Division One.
“Under the leadership of newly appointed captain Andy Ford, we are confident this strengthening of the squad will go a long way to meeting that goal.”
Green warmed up with a 47-run victory over Stourbridge in a friendly before defeating Premier Division side Barnt Green in the ECB National t20 Knock-out Cup by three wickets. In the Worcestershire League, Dick Brown continues to captain the thirds and Steve Alamutu has taken over the fourths.
Against Stourbridge, Phil Harris hit the ground running alongside Hepburn as the duo shared 198 runs in just 24 overs.
Stourbridge spinner Wood bowled Hepburn, whose 77 included eight fours and two sixes, and Harris for 127 off 74 balls with 11 fours and eight sixes.
Elliot Hennessy (33 not out) then helped Green to 271-9 off 50 overs.
Stourbridge were bowled out in the final over for 224 as Kingsland claimed his first two Green wickets.
Hepburn completed a double-wicket maiden before Kingsland (3-49) grabbed another and Jon Dovey took his third catch. Jack Mackintosh bagged 2-56.
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