HARTLEY Wintney’s new captain, Jamie Teale, is looking forward to the challenge of hopefully guiding the village side back into Southern League Division One.

Last season, Hartley suffered relegation, and they have lost a few players. Captain Scott Baldwin is going back to New Zealand, Roy Cockram has moved to London and wicket-keeper Dave Arnold is now based in Dublin.

On the plus side, Hartley have a new overseas player in South African Ari Karvelas and the 6ft 5in player made an immediate impact with an excellent 60-ball 136 in a friendly against Finchampstead.

Richard Hill, who is studying at Chichester University, will take over the gloves for the coming season and Jack Hersh is added to the batting line-up.

For the opening two games, Chris Jolley and new boy Karvelas will open the bowling, before Tommy Flanders returns to the team.

Teale’s vice-captain is experienced all-rounder Matt Digweed, who has come out of retirement and will be an excellent addition to what is still a young-looking side.

The new captain is looking forward to his first campaign in charge and said: “After last season, suffering relegation, now is the time for us to re-group. We have a lot of travelling in this league as Rowledge is our closest game.

“Obviously, we would like to go straight back up, but we will see where the season takes us.

“We have a number of new grounds to go to and this is going to make it a challenge, but we are hoping to do well.”

Hartley will open their campaign with a home game against Sparsholt, who finished mid-table last season, and then they entertain Rowledge, who, like Hartley, were relegated last year.

Teale added: “Starting with two home games is nice and hopefully this will help us make a good start and we can build from there.”