By Tara Murray
Jeff Hughes is hanging up the umpiring gear and returning to coaching, having been named Epping Cricket Club’s new coach.
Hughes has spent the last few years umpiring in the North Metro Cricket Association, but when Diamond Valley Cricket Club, Epping, came asking about him coaching them next season, it was something he was keen to have another go at.
Hughes brings an extensive cricket background, which includes playing, captaining, coaching and umpiring.
“I’ve been umpiring in the NMCA for the last five or six years,” he said.
“’I’ve watched a few games of Epping in the Northern Region T20 competition.
“The Epping president asked if I would be interested in the role. We sat down and discussed a few things and it went from there… it’s good to get back into coaching.”
Despite umpiring in another competition, Hughes took some interest in Epping last season, with his son Todd joining the club.
Both Hughes’ have spent most of their playing days at the Lalor Warriors, including both being captain-coach of the club.
Hughes senior said he was excited by the upcoming season for the Pingers, who are coming off their best season in a number of years, falling just short of a grand final.
He replaces Hussain Hanif, who returns to his former club Yarraville Club after one year at the Pingers.
“They hadn’t played finals in 10 years and they won the T20 competition,” Hughes said.
“I’ve spoke to them and they thought they were just one partnership off breaking them [Diamond Creek] in the semi final.
“I know how the team operates and it’s pretty exciting.”
The Pingers have been busy on the recruiting front as well, announcing three signings.
All-rounder Josh Henkel and batsman Nathan Gardiner are coming across to the Pingers, while John Kulikowski is returning to the club.
Hughes said they needed to strengthen this side.
“I think we needed a couple extra batsmen to have a bit more depth in the batting,” he said.
“Our bowling wasn’t too bad, we were rolling a lot of teams for 150-170.
“We’ve managed to pick up a couple of batsmen and spinner and we’ve got growth in our juniors.
“Having added depth will strengthen our lower grades as well.”