Jaik Mickleburgh to make his Suffolk cricket debut against Hertfordshire
- Credit: Archant
Coach Andy Northcote is looking for Suffolk to play ‘smarter cricket more often’ when their season begins on Sunday.
Suffolk have named a 12-man squad for their opening 50 overs-a-side Unicorns Trophy fixture against Hertfordshire at North Mymms Cricket Club, start 11am.
Wicket-keeper Adam Mansfield will take charge of the team for the first time since being officially appointed as the county’s youngest captain.
The 25-year-old was confirmed as Suffolk’s 22nd permanent skipper last September in succession to Sudbury team-mate Tom Huggins, who has taken on a coaching role with Essex CCC.
The squad includes two new faces – former Essex batsman Jaik Mickleburgh, who is playing as the county’s professional this season, and Darren Ironside, an off-spinner and middle order batsman who plays for Essex League side Buckhurst Hill.
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Coach Northcote, who is starting his second season in charge, said: “Our pre-season improved on last year’s hard work off the field.
“The board backed us financially which allowed us to start in early January with a weekend away at the Serious Cricket facility in Baskingstoke, and all 18 that went bonded well.
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“This set the tone for the rest of the winter where we have based ourselves at Ipswich School indoors once a week.
“We then went to Culford School for a good centre practise last week so all in all we are feeling good with where we are, but time will tell.”
Northcote said that he was not overly concerned that Suffolk have not had at least one pre-season friendly ahead of their Unicorns Trophy campaign.
He said: “Every player will have had at least two games – one league and one pre-season – so we will be fine. It was, of course, disappointing that Essex 2nd XI chose to play Norfolk over our annual fixture, but that was out of our control and we will rectify that for next year.
“Adam Mansfield and Darren Ironside have both scored hundreds already this year and a number of others had a good pre-season game last weekend.”
Asked what his targets were for this season’s one-day campaign, after Suffolk lost all four group games last year, Northcote said: “It’s simply an improvement on last year.
“Not results, which could not get any worse, more about our squad playing smarter cricket more often, winning key moments of games, knowing when to be ultra-aggressive and when to sit tight, etc.
“Bowlers need to bowl with more consistency and batsmen need to get in and stay in. All in all, that will add to results.
“We came out when I started at the beginning of last year and set ourselves some spectacular targets, but the reality is that now we have to re-adjust.
“The next few years is really about putting out our strongest local team each week which has a good average age to develop players and see what happens.
“Together with a number of senior players, I have dived in heavily to the Youth section this past winter doing as much coaching as possible to help their coaches unearth future talent for the 1st XI.
“Hopefully we can challenge in the one-dayers in time. We have again started this year with only two non-Suffolk based players (Darren Ironside and Matt Salisbury who don’t play for clubs affiliated to Suffolk cricket) and that is the way we hope to keep it.
“From this time last year the travelling 12 for the first game has changed by four players. Tom Huggins, Sam Webb-Snowling, Mervyn Westfield and Ben Reece have been replaced by Jaik Mickleburgh, Darren Ironside, Matt Salisbury and Jake Wakelin.
“Although Tom is a big loss, no a massive loss, I think we are stronger and younger, so it is a win, win situation. The future is bright.”
Suffolk squad: Darren Batch, Martyn Cull, Michael Comber, Darren Ironside, Adam Mansfield (wkt & capt), Dominic Manthorpe, Jaik Mickleburgh, Ben Parker, Tom Rash, Matt Salisbury, Jake Wakeling and Matt Wareing.