Promotion dream for new Hainault & Clayhall skipper Zoheb Sharif
PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 May 2012
New captain Zoheb Sharif hoping to bounce back into the Shepherd Neame Essex Premier Division at first time of asking.
New Hainault & Clayhall skipper Zoheb Sharif is intent on securing an immediate return to the top tier of the Shepherd Neame Essex League, after the club’s relegation last season.
Their surprise demotion ended a 13-year stay in the big time for the Barkingside outfit who bagged the Premier Division title in 2006 and had consistently preserved their top-flight status, thanks to a series of mid-table finishes.
Sharif was part of the 2006 championship-winning team.
He played alongside a host of talented players that included Ravi Bopara, the England and Essex top-order batsman, and the new skipper is intent on getting them back on track.
“We want to jump back straight away into the top flight.
“We have got the squad and if we apply ourselves we can go straight back up,” said the experienced Sharif who has played in several first class games for Essex.
“We have been training hard since October, but the players are frustrated by the wet weather as we have now had four or five friendlies rained off.
“But there has been a lot of practice in the nets. We have got some of the best facilities in the area.
“We use Frenford, which is just off The Drive in Ilford. Along with the net practice we do a lot of fitness to keep us ticking.
“I am returning to the club from Blackheath. I stayed here until we won the League in 2006.
“I played a little bit in the Surrey League and the Kent League after that and I am here to get Hainault & Clayhall back in the top flight and to push them back to where the club should be.
“It was a solid team when I was here previously. Ravi Bopara was playing for us at the time and that year we won the league we were an outstanding team.
“We have been using the same players since then and now it is time for others to step up.”
Sharif takes over the captaincy from Yasin Patel who has stepped up to a club development role, where he will oversee all teams in the club, but will continue to play in the first team.
Patel was understandably disappointed by the manner of their relegation last season, where they failed to win any of their last 10 games.
The surprise slump had immediately followed another dependable season in the top flight that saw them win six and draw five of their 18 matches to finish fifth in 2010.
“I was very, very disappointed that we went down last season and we hope to turn it around this year,” Patel said.
“For the first part of the season we were thereabouts, but after we had played eight games we didn’t win another match which was the problem.
“We had a number of injuries which didn’t help, but this season we have several new players in.
“Zoheb, Irfan Shah, the star ex-Hampshire cricketer, and overseas player Suleman Qadir. Mouhsin Ishmael, who struggled with injury for much of last season, is also back, so already we have four good bowlers that we didn’t have last season.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ilford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.