Hadleigh captain Josh Davey is refusing to get carried away after surpassing everyone’s expectations in a memorable debut campaign last season.
Ahead of travelling to Mildenhall on Saturday (1pm) the Friars Road outfit will not be caught out dreaming of eclipsing their third place in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship to give them a shot at East Anglian Premier League (EAPL) cricket.
Consolidation at a higher level is very much on the mind of Davey as he looks to plug the gap of prolific wicket-taker Matt Wareing — who took 44 wickets, the third highest in the league last season — leaving for EAPL side Copdock and Old Ipswichian.
“We surpassed expectations last year and in our second year we will have to win it or come second to do better, which would be difficult,” he said. “It seems like the competition will be tougher this year with Sudbury coming down and Worlington coming up.
“Matt is a big loss and it is very frustrating losing him after just one season.
“But he was getting a lot of pressure to play in the Premier League, which is understandable and it is now a chance for other people to step up and take those wickets.
“I would like to think the top four is achievable.
“We would love to take this club into the Premier League, but you cannot do it overnight and we need to consolidate in Division One.”
But in another opening strike bowler, Kyle Tanner — who took 37 wickets last season — Davey says they still have a real match-winner in their bowling attack, despite their 20-year-old player-of-the-season’s departure.
“There are not a lot of strong, quick bowlers around and we were very fortunate to have two, and we still have Kyle,” said opening batsman Davey, who is also delighted to have Australian professional Luke Ibbs — a solid batsman and off-spinner — back for another season. “It is good we have kept Luke because with overseas (professionals) it is always a gamble not knowing how they will fit in and that is the real advantage we have.”
Hadleigh will again look to Marlon Dias, who will open with Davey, to weigh in with the runs after plundering his way to 749 from his 19 innings last year (44.06 average), while Tanner’s average of 47.10 put him fourth in the league’s standings.
Davey, who has tipped 16-year-old Dominic Manthorpe to shine, also revealed the club has been working hard over the winter on strengthening their second team, after Hadleigh II finished fourth-from-bottom in a disappointing Division Four campaign.
Ryan Phillips’ side will be looking to hit the ground running this year ahead of their opening game at Copdock and Old Ipswichian II.
Sudbury II (third) begin their Division Three campaign at home to Little Bardfield Village, while Sudbury III (eighth) open their Division Six season at newly-promoted Worlingworth (all 1pm).
Sudbury Ladies (seventh) have to wait until May 2 to get their Beaumont Seymour Women’s League North Division campaign under way with reigning champions Colchester visiting.
In the Hunts County Bats Suffolk Sunday League, Sudbury (second) will be looking to go one better this year ahead of hosting newly-promoted Cavendish Wanderers a week on Sunday in Division One, while Hadleigh (third) host Rougham.
Acton begin life in Division Three, after winning Division Four, at home to Woolpit.
In Division Four, Edwardstone start with Horringer at home, Hadleigh II travel to Stowupland and Sudbury II have to wait until May 4 to host Horringer in their opening game (all 1.30pm).