Whitstable Cricket Club are hoping for a return to the top-flight and new head coach Dave Fulton is looking forward to helping with the project.
Former Kent skipper Fulton has left Faversham to take on the coaching role at The Belmont, where the 1st XI have dropped down the league in recent seasons.
Captain Sam Denly wants the club playing at the top of the Kent League again and Fulton, with over 300 first class and limited overs matches behind him, is the kind of experienced head he needs.
Fulton, 49, said: “Sam wants to grab the club by the scruff of the neck, there have been a couple of relegations and he wants to turn things around.
“He is assembling a good group of players and wants to show we mean business. It will be a good place to play.
“It is important to remember it is just a game of cricket, it is not life and death. We want to have fun but we want to play a good brand of cricket, we want to win games and hopefully it will be a decent mix.”
Whitstable finished bottom of Kent Cricket League, Division 2 at the end of the 2019 season but have shown progression already, topping division 2 of the 2020 East Kent Heroes League over the summer. They last played Premier Division cricket in 2013.
Fulton will continue his media work, as a cricket journalist and broadcaster, but has more time now to devote to a project which he says has rekindled some of the challenges that he enjoyed while captaining the county.
He said: “Hopefully I am still going to be popping up on people’s tv screens and covering a bit of this and that, but this is a commitment in terms of the coaching and the Saturdays. I am making a commitment to Whitstable that I will be there and I will be there to help.
“I have covered a lot of cricket, I see a lot of cricket and I like to think I have my finger on the pulse and that I am up to speed on the trends in the game.
“Coaching wise it has been a bit here and there, where people have asked me to help them on a one to one basis, mainly the juniors, so it is definitely a step up in terms of managing and coaching a team.
“The exciting thing is it takes me back to my captaincy days of trying to mould a squad and winning games of cricket, you are not just working on the cover drive of a 14-year-old. You are trying to shape a squad that is trying to play competitive cricket and play in the right spirit, win games and progress up the leagues, that is what we hope to do.
“The culture is important and we want everyone to buy into what we are about. We want people to come to Whitstable and for it to be tough for them on the pitch but for them to go away and think ‘they are a good team and they do things right, I really enjoyed playing against them and it was played in the right way.’”
Fulton’s two sons, aged 16 and 13, have made the switch from Faversham too and he was keen to thank the club he has just left.
He said: “Faversham have been great to me and especially my boys. We loved every minute and I leave with a heavy heart.
“I liked what Sam had to say and was keen to get involved.
“My boys have gone to training and they have enjoyed it as well. It is not just about me, it is for them too, and it is a good all round opportunity for us.”
Fulton, who lives in Whitstable, oversaw a couple of indoor training sessions before the lockdown but has yet to pick up a bat himself.
He said: “We are looking to have three sides but if we had seven I might just squeeze into one! I am not ruling out playing but I don’t want to take anyone’s spot.
“My time has been and gone but if they are short, if someone drops out at the last minute and they have a gap to fill, then I would have a go.
“There is a talented group at Whitstable and I am looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Speaking about Fulton’s appointment, Denly commented: “Someone of Dave’s quality and the experience he brings, having played the game at professional level, is only going to benefit everybody associated with Whitstable Cricket Club.
“The club has worked really hard over the last year and the quality of players that have joined highlights our ambition to return to top flight cricket. Now with Dave onboard we have the perfect infrastructure in place to help us get there.”