Sudbury Cricket Club's Darren Batch picks his top five team-mates from down the years
Club captain Darren Batch has spent more than a decade racking up the runs for Sudbury Cricket Club.
As a result, the Suffolk batsman has played alongside a number of top players down the years.
But which five have made the biggest impression? Read on to find out who made the cut (picked in chronological order).
Pete Siegert: Pete was the captain at Sudbury when I joined the club in 2009. I remember having a phone conversation with him during the winter, he explained about the club and the first team in particular. I was very excited about what he was saying and the ambition he showed.
Pete was captain in 2009 and then again in 2010 when we won the Two Counties Division One title. I learned a lot from Pete about cricket, and captaincy in particular.
He was someone who was never afraid to take a chance and change the bowling attack if things were drifting in a game and he was always someone who was proactive with his decisions on the field – that’s something that really helped me when I eventually became captain.
I would always go to Pete for advice as he had a very level-headed approach. Even in pressure situations Pete could step back and give a balanced, objective view and usually he was right.
Adam Mansfield: I appointed Manny as my vice captain in 2011 when I became captain for our first season in the East Anglian Premier League.
Manny always struck me as someone with an excellent cricket brain, so much so that I was more than happy to give him ownership of changing the field as he saw fit and I often relied on him in that respect.
In addition to this, Manny is the person who has worked hardest on his game over the years. He was already a very talented wicketkeeper when I joined the club, but over the years he has improved his batting immeasurable. And that is down to hard work and the time and effort he puts in to improving his game.
Manny would never shy away from a difficult role in the side either. If it was something that would help the team Manny would be happy to fill that role, even if it didn’t necessarily benefit him personally.
He stepped up to open the batting a few years ago when a vacancy at the top emerged. In the EAPL opening up is a tough gig but he did it and didn’t always find it easy and could’ve easily averaged more batting in the middle order, but because it benefited the team he put his hand up.
It’s also why his hundred in the final game of 2018 when we beat Norwich to win the league title for a second time was so pleasing to see, as I know how much it meant to him.
Hasantha Fernando: I’m allowing myself one overseas player, and Hasantha had that role in 2011 and 2012.
Sudbury has a rich history of excellent overseas players. Rajeth Seth was one our chairman Louis Brooks says was fantastic through to someone like Jon Kent, who has a phenomenal record with both bat and ball during his time at the club.
I only caught the back of Jon’s time at the club when I played a few Sunday games with him in 2008 and saw what a great player he was.
Fernando in those two years of playing EAPL cricket was so, so important. He won games on his own. He was very good with the bat averaging nearly 40, but absolutely magical with the ball in hand.
He was quick when he wanted to be but his main threat was a booming in-swinger that would often be too good for most batsmen.
I suppose it was Hasantha’s ability to grab the game at the most critical point and stamp his authority on it which sticks in my mind.
He often saved his best performances for games against Bury St Edmunds, who we’ve had a great rivalry with down the years – especially at that time when they had some of Suffolk’s finest players playing. Fernando made us believe we could beat them.
James Poulson: Pouls is one of those players who is often underrated but his record over the years is very impressive.
He formed a very important opening bowling partnership with Jonny Gallagher, which became one of the linchpins of our title-winning teams in 2017 and 2018.
James has been with the club since he was a junior and worked his way through the ranks to become a very important first-team player.
He’s very reliable with the ball, the captain knows that he can always throw James the ball and he’ll do a very good job for the team.
James has also contributed valuable runs for the team over the years and played important knocks when the side has needed it. He even stepped up to open the batting last year on a few occasions. He won our Club Player of the Year award in 2019 and that was richly deserved.
Tom Huggins: He joined the club in 2015 when we were in Division One of the Two Counties and he set us the target of winning the EAPL within three years, which we did!
He brought a belief to the club that wasn’t there beforehand. He unified the team and the club in general behind that one aim of becoming the best team in East Anglia within three years.
There were a few raised eyebrows when he first said it but he made people believe that it was possible.
In that first year in Division One, Tom was phenomenal. He broke that batting record for runs in a season, he was an incredible batsman and we won the league at a canter with Tom at the forefront. In his first game he scored 180 against Maldon and he went on from there.
Tom became captain in 2017 and once again he brought the whole club together on our quest to win the league.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed batting with Huggo, he takes things seriously but enjoys himself at the same time.
One partnership that I know we both look back on fondly was Burwell away in 2018, where we put on 281 together and Tom played superbly, hitting 158 in just 125 balls.
But it was the enjoyment we both got out of batting together that really sticks in my mind. Tom has been a fantastic player, captain and coach for us.
More by this authorLiam Apicella