Hancock signs off from Sidmouth cricket

DEVON cricket captain Neil Hancock is to leave Sidmouth next season due to increased pressures in his day job, writes Conrad Sutcliffe.

Hancock, 36, has had two highly successful spells with the Fortfield Terrace team, between 2000-2002 and 2006-2010. For the three seasons in between he turned out for Paignton.

While Aussie Hancock has been at the club, they have won the Devon League Premier titles (08-10), the A Division title in 2007 and the Devon Senior Cup in 2009 and 2011.

Hancock captained the 1st XI for two seasons during his first spell with the club. The hard-hitting batsman said it was a reluctant decision on his part to leave Fortfield, but work commitments made it inevitable.

Hancock, who is a depot manager for a national chain of builders’ merchants, said: “I have just been appointed to a new depot in Newton Abbot and it looks like I will have to work until lunchtime most Saturdays. I certainly won’t be able to get to Sidmouth in time for most matches – and the away games will be a problem as well. I have had a fantastic time at Sidmouth and will always have happy memories of playing there.”

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There are plenty of teams who will show an interest in an occasionally available Hancock should he decide to play where he can.

Premier Division Bovey Tracey are bound to be interested as Hancock lives within 10 minutes of their ground.

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Torquay, where Hancock first started out in Devon cricket when he arrived from Australia in 1996, and South Devon will probably get emissaries to pick up the phone.

Hancock’s work commitments look like signalling the end of his stint as Devon captain, which started in 2010 when he succeeded long-serving Bob Dawson.

The writing has been on the wall since the tail end of last summer when Devon won the Minor Counties Championship outright without their captain at the helm.

Hancock couldn’t get all four days off for the final against Cambridgeshire at March Town CC in the Fenlands and was replaced for the match by Bovey Tracey’s Chris Bradley.

Said Hancock: “Certainly it would be difficult for me to commit to a full season with Devon, or even the one-day cup games on Sundays.

“I haven’t had that conversation yet with the Devon management so I don’t know what their feelings are.”

While Sidmouth are resigned to losing Hancock, they have completed the signing of former Heathcoat skipper Liam Lewis,

Lewis won’t be available for the first three games next season as he serves out the remainder of a four-match ban imposed in August for showing dissent to an umpire.

Lewis previously played for Exmouth, who were also interested in securing his services for 2012.

Sidmouth are also on the lookout for a new wicketkeeper as they are in danger of starting 2012 without one.

Marc Jenkins retired at the end of 2010 and was replaced by overseas player Ben Gledhill in 2011. Gledhill is not returning next summer.

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