Understrength Suffolk head to Staffs hoping to get Unicorns season up and running with victory
Suffolk's side will be shorn of several experienced players for their opening Unicorns Championship match of the season against Staffordshire, starting on Sunday, writes Nick Garnham
Five players are ruled out by school commitments – Sudbury duo Darren Batch and James Poulson, plus Jaik Mickleburgh, Martyn Cull and Jed Cawkwell.
Suffolk head coach Any Northcote conceded: “They will be a massive loss, without doubt, as they formed the basis of the reasons why we did well last season.
“They are all key players and although Darren Batch won’t feature in the three-dayers, the others possess the skills required and have proven track records at Minor Counties level.
“We need Jed playing club cricket again for Copdock and he, too, will then come into contention.”
Adam Ball, the former Kent all-rounder who signed for Suffolk before the start of the season, is also unavailable due to work commitments.
The Suffolk side will therefore have an unfamiliar look to it and Northcote confirmed: “Jake Foley will make his Minor Counties debut as will Jonny Gallagher from Sudbury. He’s had a wonderful summer thus far and finds his way into contention.”
Foley has played for Suffolk in both short formats of the game this season, but it will be a first outing at this level for opening bowler Gallagher.
Copdock & Old Ipswichian batsman Alex Oxley has recovered from a shoulder injury and will play, but a late decision will be made on whether Bury St Edmunds all-rounder Josh Cantrell is fit following a hand injury.
Northcote said: “As you can see from the selection of the side we are breeding a few young players so whatever results we get, we take it.
“It would be great if we can come away with a strong campaign like we did last year (Suffolk finished runners-up) but, from the offset, we might be struggling.
“Staffordshire is a tough place to play and they are always a good side, so missing a large number of the squad is going to be tricky.”
Suffolk squad: Alex Oxley, Jack Beaumont, Kyran Young, Darren Ironside, Ben Shepperson, Michael Comber, Josh Cantrell, Adam Mansfield (wkt & capt), Tom Rash, Jake Foley, Jonny Gallagher, George Loyd.