Batch proud to be leading Sudbury into new era

DARREN Batch has spoken of his pride at leading Sudbury Cricket Club in their first season in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League.

The Suffolk club enter a new era on Saturday when they play their first match in the EAPL following promotion from the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship last season.

The 26-year-old all-rounder enjoyed a highly successful summer last season with the Friars Street side, culminating in making his Minor Counties Championship debut for Suffolk.

Batch, who has taken over the reins from stalwart Peter Siegert after two years as skipper in his second spell in charge, said: “The club have never played as high as this level before, and so I am very proud to be captain in our first season in the East Anglian Premier League.”

Sudbury open their campaign at home to arch rivals Halstead, who will be led by Tom Philp this season instead of Matt Spatcher, and Batch said: “The match against Halstead will be a good test for us. We are looking to enjoy the step up as much as we can, and there is not too much pressure on us as no-one is expecting us to turn teams over.

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“Realistically, our expectations are to play hard and to enjoy ourselves, and finishing anywhere above bottom and being relegated will be considered a success.”

Sudbury had hoped to enlist the services of Sri Lankan all-rounder Nisham Mazahir for the start of the season as a stop-gap replacement for Hasantha Fernando, the 31-year-old former Sri Lankan Test and one-day all-rounder, whose first-class commitments in his native country mean he is not due to arrive in England until mid-May.

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However, Mazahir’s commitments in the Derbyshire League scuppered the move and so another Sri Lankan, Sujith Janaka, will feature in the club’s opening three matches instead and bat at number four.

Sudbury have also signed 17-year-old Matthew Hunn, a fast bowler from Easton and a member of the Suffolk Development side, and all-rounder Craig Smith, who used to play with Batch at Wickford before joining fellow Essex League side Hornchurch.

Justin Bishop, who missed much of last season due to a persistent knee injury which required an operation, returns to skipper Bury St Edmunds, who have lost three key members of their side since last season.

Freddie Klokker has gone back to Denmark, Nick Lee is coaching at Sussex CCC and wicket-keeper/batsman Chris Warn has moved to Hertfordshire.

However, Phil Edwards returns to Bury after playing first-class cricket for Kent, and also joining the club this season are promising young players Sasha Ward, Scott Harvey and Joe Nicol.

Bury start their campaign with a match at home to Great Witchingham while Clacton, with Suffolk batsman Martyn Cull still at the helm, are away to Saffron Walden.

The Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship also swings into action today with a full programme of matches.

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