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Barking captain Afzal piles the pressure on champions Newham to defend their title

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 May 2019

Barking Cricket Club on their pre-season tour (Pic: Barking CC)

Barking Cricket Club on their pre-season tour (Pic: Barking CC)

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Barking captain Ehsan Afzal says Newham has a big target on their back as they look to nab the Essex County League Premier Division back in the 2019 season.

Ehsan Afzal of Barking (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Ehsan Afzal of Barking (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

The Mayesbrook Park outfit finished third in the league last term after winning the league title two years in a row.

Afzal and his side did however cap off their campaign by being crowned T20 champions to add more silverware to the club's ever-growing collection.

“Newham are always our main rivals, they work the same way we do and both teams learn off each other.

“They only lost one league game last year and that was against us.

“They have a real big target on their back, but in our league any one can beat anyone, each team has match winners.”

The long-serving captain insisted the league title is more important than winning any cup competitions and is backing his squad to be prepared for the upcoming campaign.

“The league is the most important trophy.

“It shows a team's consistency, drive and effort they put in.

“The team looking strong, we've not made many changes.

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“We may have a new signing for the year.”

Barking went off to Spain for a tour of games where they played against the Spanish A team and England's defeat XI.

But Afzal doesn't want to get too carried away as he wants the club to continue developing as a whole this season.

“We are always looking to progress on and off the field as a club.

“Recent years the trophies have been rolling in and slowly are making improvements in the clubhouse too.

“We have some great people work hard behind the scenes and this shows out on the pitch.”

Imran Butt and Usman Mahmood have been backed by Afzal as being two of his key figures this season.

“We have match winners through the team, but the experience of Imran Butt will be vital.

“His fitness and willingness to better himself has always been a benchmark for all to reach.

“The youngsters are all buying in to the philosophy of the way we work and the credit has to go to the whole team. “Usman Mahmood is looking very good this season.

“He has developed as a player and has been working very hard.”

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