Sudbury’s Darren Batch believes the club are capable of making a challenge for regional club cricket’s biggest prize this season.
Ahead of their 2017 Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League opener at home to Cambrdigeshire outfit Burwell on Saturday (11am), the new club captain — having been first XI skipper last season — is confident they can stay the distance in the title race this season.
Having got off to a storming start to their return to the top tier, following promotion, The Talbots eventually fell away to mid-table (7th out of 12) last season.
“We have got to aim as high as we possibly can, and there is no reason why we cannot be up there challenging for the title,” said Batch.
“At the halfway stage of last year we were in third position and challenging the frontrunners.
“But we fell away towards the back end of last season.
“So, if we start well again like last year, there is no reason why we cannot keep it going this year and put in a challenge right at the top.”
Tom Huggins, who stepped down as Suffolk’s Minor Counties captain at the end of last season due to taking up a new full-time coaching role at Specsavers County Championship First Division new boys Essex, has stepped up to take on the role of playing captain this year.
And Batch — who with 864 runs last season was the only Sudbury player to score more than Suffolk legend Huggins (549) in 2016 — believes they are set to reap the benefits of him leading the side.
“Tom is a fantastic player to have in the team with his batting and bowling,” he said.
“He can win you a game on any given day, really.
“This year he will be leading us and hopefully that will bring the best out of him.
“It certainly brought the best out of him for Suffolk.”
But Sudbury will still have the county’s leader in their ranks with Adam Mansfield having taken over, with the 25-year-old wicketkeeper becoming the youngest ever to skipper Suffolk.
“It is brilliant for us to have the Suffolk captain playing for us,” said Batch, who is also in the first county squad this season.
Nathan Poole is the only departure from the club, having relocated to Chichester, but in have come Hadleigh’s young Suffolk talent Ben Parker, who will bat at number four and travel back from university in Leeds every weekend, as well as all-rounder Dan Poole from Haverhill, who is sixth on the club’s all-time run-scoring list and 11th on the all-time wicket takers list, while still under the age of 30.
South African fast bowler Dustin Melton is Sudbury’s overseas player once again and showed he is ready to hit the ground running with four wickets in Saturday’s 10-wicket demolition of Wivenhoe.