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Young Dartford Cricket Club side can challenge at the top says captain John Smyth

By Henry Clark

Dartford captain John Smyth says he is enjoying the challenge of leading the club’s youthful 1st XI this season.

At least five players aged 20 or under have been picked by the Darts in their opening five league games of the season, which have already returned three victories.

Dartford captain John Smyth. Picture: Andy Jones (47993680)
Dartford captain John Smyth. Picture: Andy Jones (47993680)

Despite the lack of experience in his side, Smyth said he was confident the youngsters could step up and perform.

Smyth said: “It is a bit of a surreal selection but these teenagers want to prove to each other that they are good enough. They are all capable and back their own ability but they also trust everyone else.

“I love what the youngsters bring to the team. They bring great energy and it’s a joy to captain them to be honest.”

Batsmen Garry Cook and David Walker provide some much-needed experience with Smyth, 26, reserving praise for Cook’s support as a former 1st XI skipper himself.

Dartford responded in fine fashion to a narrow defeat at the hands of OD CUACO as left-armer Thomas Glass-Burgess (4-24) spun his side to a 24-run win at Broadstairs on Saturday.

Smyth, who has played for the club since under-11 level, knows that resilience is key if his team are to be successful.

Smyth said: “Inevitably we will lose games of cricket but I think they’re mature enough to come back from that, especially with the older heads in the team.

“I think everyone that’s been through seasons prior to this has gone through some difficult games and they can bounce back.”

Barney Ford and Jack Stanford, both 15, have been regulars in the 1sts this season having emerged from the club’s junior section.

The pair play age-group cricket for Kent and left-arm seamer Ford also recently represented London & East at the prestigious ECB Bunbury Festival which has helped to develop the likes of England stars Joe Root and Ben Stokes.

Smyth added: “I started at under-11 and I know Joe Reynolds (1st XI vice-captain) did as well. We have to back the (youth) system that we have and I have no problem in seeing succession.

“Barney is probably the quickest bowler in the league, I haven’t faced anyone quicker so far. Jack’s been one of our best bowlers so far which is great and it’s been brilliant to have them in the team.”

Dartford Cricket Club's 1st XI from the 2020 season
Dartford Cricket Club's 1st XI from the 2020 season

After a truncated 2020 season, Dartford sit in third place in Division 2 and whilst Smyth stressed that it is still very much early days, the team’s focus will be on maintaining their fine start to the campaign.

Smyth said: “I think we’re going to see a very different league and probably the teams that have got a closer-knit group of home-grown players will be the stronger sides.

“The aim for us is to get promoted but we will see a top four finish as a successful season.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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