Premier Cricket: New Northcote captain Ben Abbatangelo’s leadership qualities lauded

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NEW Northcote coach Steve Taylor has backed his successor as Dragons captain to flourish in the leadership role.

Taylor has handed captaincy duties to Ben Abbatangelo after the star all-rounder was appointed as David Reid’s coaching replacement in March.

Taylor said becoming skipper would be a “natural progression” for Abbatangelo, who has served as his deputy in recent seasons and been Victoria’s Imparja Cup captain.

“He’s a leader of men and he has wanted to lead this club for a long time,” Taylor said.

“One of his mentors, Grant Gardiner, is a former club captain and I think he really wanted to follow in Grant’s shoes. That time has come for him to make this team his own and really put his own stamp on it, which I am sure he will.”

Abbatangelo, a top-order batsman, compiled 414 runs at 31.9 last season and has previously been considered a Victorian prospect.

Taylor, who has coaching experience in the Northern Territory and England, said the role had been a “huge change in pace”.

“We’re fortunate we have got a strong group of leaders and I knew the time was right for me to step away (from captaincy),” the 2015-16 Ryder medallist said.

“What that does for me, if anything, is free me up on game day.

“Once we go over that line, I am a player only. Hopefully that will free me up to play some good cricket.”

The Dragons have been seeking two recruits to bolster their First XI squad, with a middle-order batsman a priority.

But Taylor is bullish about the club’s chances of an immediate return to finals after tumbling to 16th on the table last summer in a season marred by injuries to key players.

“We were struck down with injury last year,” he said.

“We had more than our fair share. A bit of luck on that front as well as one or two more (players) will put us right back up to where we were two seasons ago.”

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