Player shortage forces Felixstowe out

CRICKET: The move to entice talented young players away from the Two Counties Championship and into the East Anglian Premier League has left Felixstowe so short of players that they had to withdraw their first team from the league.

THE move to entice talented young players away from the Two Counties Championship and into the East Anglian Premier League has left Felixstowe so short of players that they had to withdraw their first team from the league.

There will be one blank space in Second Division fixtures this summer after Felixstowe found themselves with 12 players, plus one possible, to complete two sides last weekend.

"We have lost a host of players," said club chairman John Bloomfield. "The Suffolk policy of wanting players to move to the East Anglian Premier League to have the best chance of playing for the county has certainly not helped.

"In recent years we have lost former colts Mark Jones and the Rock brothers Danny and Jamie to clubs in the EAPL.

"After relegation from Division One of the Two Counties last year we have been left with only enough players to fill one side.

"We could have carried on with 13 and 14-year-olds but it would not have been fair on them or our opponents.

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"After a taste of life in Division One with better wickets and better standard, we have lost players who want to continue at that level."

Felixstowe, who are one of the oldest clubs in the county, have a Dellwood Avenue ground that has staged many top matches and been graced by such players as former England legend Denis Compton.

They will continue to play in Division Six where their second team was originally due to compete.

"We aim to run two adult sides again one day, but it might take three or four years," added Bloomfield.

"Our youngsters need time to come through but we still feel the club has a future.

"It is sad that this has happened but hopefully we have done things in the right way. I contacted our committee and then wrote a letter to every Second Division club so that they received it on Saturday – before the start of the league season.

"I am 64 with a metal hip, but find myself playing first team cricket again."

Bloomfield's son, Steve, is captain while Mark Parker, Ben Connell and Daniel Bennett remain from the 2001 first team squad.

Included in those who have departed are last season's captain John Garnham, who has moved to Wivenhoe with Mark Tasker. Ian Connell has switched to Tattingstone and Keith Wright has joined St Margaret's.

Felixstowe play away to Witham seconds tomorrow with Parker unavailable as he is away.

In the First Division of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship, Copdock &Old Ipswichians will be seeking to build on their good win over reigning champions Exning last week when they visit the promoted Bury St Edmunds second team.

Tattingstone were rained off last week and will be out to start with a win at Sudbury while Browns travel to Exning looking to get two defeats last weekend out of their system.

Sunday sees an exciting new development to Suffolk cricket with the first round of the DFDS Suffolk Cup. The man-of-the-match at every game will receive a free mini-cruise.

Winners can take partners at reduced prices and the trip is from Harwich and for three days. The winning team in the final will receive 15 mini-cruises.

This move has given this competition a great boost, although umpires have another decision to worry about as they have been given the task of picking the cruise winner.

Another change sees one overseas player per team now allowed to play. Competition secretary Tony Warrington said: "As a guide, if an overseas player is eligible to play league cricket then his is also eligible for the cup. Professional cricketers are still excluded."

Matches start at noon and will be played over 50-overs a side. Holders Tattingstone will be favourites to beat Woodbridge, while 2001 runners-up Ipswich and East Suffolk have a tough local derby against Browns at Chantry Park.

Mildenhall and Copdock will be an interesting contest if the former field their Saturday side, while Sudbury will start favourites to beat East Bergholt and Bury St Edmunds will be fancied against St Margaret's.

First round losers go into the Plate competition. On the second round date there is a clash of interests with Suffolk playing a Minor Counties game against Northumberland.

"This has happened because the Suffolk game was changed on three occasions," added Warrington.

"This clash is most unfortunate and we apologise to any club inconvenienced."