Darren Batch believes the return of South African Jandre Coetezee can bring back the winning habit of their promotion-winning campaign.
The medium left-arm bowler helped steer the Talbots into the unchartered waters of the East Anglian Premier League (EAPL) in his second spell as overseas professional at Friars Street in 2010.
On the eve of the season-opener at EAPL newboys Woolpit (11.30am), Batch believes Coetzee, who replaces the void left by Sri Lankan-capped Hasantha Fernando, can help take his side to the next level after a ninth-placed (out of 12) finish in their second season at the top level.
“Obviously we need to get safe first, but I am quite optimistic about this season and I am hoping for a top half finish,” he said. “Being a young side, hopefully that experience of the last two years and learning how to get as many points as we can out of each game will be invaluable to us this year.”
And with Coetzee spearheading his bowling attack, Batch believes they have a great chance of their highest-ever finish in the EAPL (currently seventh in 2011).
“Jandre coming in as an overseas professional was so successful last time and we had a real feel-good factor where we were winning nearly every game,” said Batch. “Bringing him back brings back positive memories from 2010 and will give the whole club and team a huge boost.”
The Friars Street-based outfit have lost promising fast bowler Matthew Hunn to rivals Bury St Edmunds, but have added top-order batsman Rory Darkins to their ranks as Batch tries to overcome their problem area last season.
The 21-year-old New Zealander, who holds a British passport, has been playing for Sydney Cricket Club in Australia over the winter and played for Sudbury’s divisional rivals Cambridge Granta last season.
“He is going to come in and bat at number three for us, most probably,” said Batch, who will trust the experienced duo of Peter Seigert and Jay Phillips to open, after finishing last season as numbers one and two. “Rory is also a capable leg spin bowler as well and he will fit in well with our other youngsters.”
Adam Mansfield and James Poulson, who became one of the youngest opening batting partnerships in the league last season, have both received call-ups to the full Suffolk squad this season.
Batch said: “It is great for them and the club and hopefully we will see the benefits training and playing at a higher standard in Minor Counties cricket.”
Spin kings Ben Hyett and Ben Reece, the former the club’s top wicket taker with 45 last season, will be playing in Suffolk’s developmental team.
With the first game against Marshall Hatchick Two Counties champions Woolpit, the Talbots’ skipper believes they catch them out on their first day in the longer format.
“They will obviously have the confidence from last year, but it is a totally different format of cricket they have been playing and I do not know if we can catch them cold with more experience about how the game is played at this level,” he said. “I do not see too much Premier League experience in their team and hopefully that will be a deciding factor.”
n Sudbury’s women will be looking to go one better when they get their Beaumont Seymour League North Division campaign under way on May 3 with a trip to Abberton, after finishing second to Colchester last season.
Their first home game comes a week later when they host Eight Ash Green on May 10.