Culford School player Alex Oxley fitness doubt for Suffolk ahead of Unicorns Championship opener with Staffordshire
Suffolk are waiting on the fitness of Alex Oxley before confirming their side for the opening three-day Unicorns Championship match of the season, writes Nick Garnham.
The 18-year-old batsman has been sidelined by a back injury which could prevent him playing against Staffordshire at Copdock on Sunday (11am).
Suffolk are keen to allow the Culford School student, who is a member of the Warwickshire Academy, every opportunity to recover, especially as opening partner Jaik Mickleburgh is unavailable.
Mickleburgh, Martyn Cull and Jed Cawkwell, who all work in schools, are ruled out along with the injured trio of Matt Hunn, James Poulson and Billy Moulton-Day.
Feroze Khushi, who made his debut in the Twenty20 double-header versus Bedfordshire at Dunstable Town, is required for an Essex 2nd XI fixture.
Suffolk have named Jacob Marston, a top-order wicket-keeper-batsman who plays his plays his club cricket for Copdock in the Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League, in their squad as 12th man.
Suffolk have the chance to do something special this campaign. We came ever so close last year and feel a bit more prepared this time around - Andy Northcote
Head coach Andy Northcote said: “He is 17-years-old and a product of our Suffolk Young Cricketers from the age of 10 through to 15, before joining Essex for the remainder of his junior performance pathway.
“He currently averages 18 in the six EAPL games he has played and is a product of St Joseph's College, where he is finishing his A-Levels this year.”
Nothcote is upbeat about Suffolk’s prospects for their three-day season, after finishing runners-up to Eastern Division champions Lincolnshire last year.
He said: “Suffolk have the chance to do something special this campaign. We came ever so close last year and feel a bit more prepared this time around.
“However, our fixture and venue list is a little trickier than last year; Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Cumberland away and Staffordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northumberland at home.
“We have struggled with availability for this fixture but have still managed to build a very strong, match-winning side. After this one, as things stand, we should have a full squad to pick from for each round.
“Ideally, I would love to see us play some good cricket early in the campaign and, after four games, assess whether we push to win the division or, indeed, ensure an all-important top-five finish.”
The top-five teams in this season’s Eastern Division will form Division One when the competition splits into two for the 2020 season.
Northcote added: “Staffordshire are one of the best in the division so we know that they will come to try and beat us, which should make for a great spectacle.
“They have reached the quarter-finals of the one-day Unicorns Trophy. However, like us, they had an indifferent T20 competition. If we are able to reach the performance levels I know we are capable of, we have nothing to worry about.”
Suffolk: Alex Oxley, Adam Mansfield (wkt & cpt), Kyran Young, Darren Ironside, Ben Shepperson, Mike Comber, Tom Rash, Jack Beaumont, Josh Cantrell, Ben Reece, Ollie Bocking. 12th man: Jacob Marston.