SUDBURY captain Darren Batch has no hesitation in entrusting teenagers Adam Mansfield and James Poulson to lead the charge with the bat this season.
The Talbots’ skipper is looking for his young guns to fire them to another mid-table finish to consolidate their position in the East Anglian Premier League (EAPL) – the regional top tier of non-county cricket.
Sudbury, who finished seventh out of 12 in their debut season after promotion from the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championships, open their new campaign at Friars Street against Saffron Walden on Saturday (11am).
But they will have to get through their first game without influential Sri Lankan overseas professional Hasanatha Fernando, who is still waiting on his Visa to be cleared to return to coach at schools in Suffolk.
But Batch is more than confident his young players, including opening batsmen Mansfield, again handed the vice captaincy, and Poulson, can deliver from the off.
“I think we are strong enough to go in without an overseas professional and it really shows I am confident in how the side is shaping up.
“Adam and James have both been training hard during the winter, putting in extra hours in their preparation.
“They are still learning and James opened for half of last year and Adam did five games.It is a tough job to open the batting against these experienced bowlers in this league, especially at 11am in the morning when it can be cold and damp and the ball will do a bit more.”
But he added: “I am confident they should get us off to a good start most weeks.”
Sudbury warmed up for the new season with a one-wicket loss to Two Counties Division One side Haverhill at Friars Street on Saturday with Mansifeld out for a duck before hitting a century for the Sunday side against Long Melford.
And Batch said the result against the lower-league side doesn’t worry him.
“I told the boys before the game the result is secondary,” he said. “Obviously it is nice to win, but the most important thing was everyone got a bat and a bowl and got back in the swing of things – playing on grass is completely different to indoor nets.”
Promising 17-year-old Suffolk fast bowler Matthew Hunn (also playing for St Josephs College) will open the bowling alongside Jonny Gallagher and will join fellow teenagers Nathan Poole (number four batsman) and off-spinner Ben Hyett in a youthful line-up.
Former Ugandan Under-19 World Cup player Clive Kyangungu, based at the home of the Apache helicopters Wattisham, will miss the first two matches.
Batch said of Saturday’s opponents, who finished one place above the single relegation spot last season: “It will be a good test for us to see where we are.
“You make these predictions during the off season to assess the strength of the squad but it is not until that first game you see how strong or not you are.”