Suffolk look to the future with youngsters

New player-coach Simon Guy, front right, giving advice to Tom Rash, left, and Sasha Ward, centre, at

New player-coach Simon Guy, front right, giving advice to Tom Rash, left, and Sasha Ward, centre, at Suffolk's indoor net session at Ipswich School

SKIPPER Justin Bishop believes new player-coach Simon Guy has already created a “good buzz” among Suffolk’s squad ahead of the new season.

Bishop is keen to put a winter of discontent firmly behind him as Suffolk prepare for the forthcoming Minor Counties Championship campaign, and the arrival of Guy has already had a positive impact.

All-rounder Ben France and wicket-keeper and batsman Chris Warn both asked to be de-registered, and subsequently went public on how they were disenchanted with the way the team was being run.

Bishop, who is starting his fifth season as captain, said: “Whatever has happened in the winter has happened. People are entitled to their opinions.

“It is important that we now re-group and move forward and come up with a plan for everyone so that they are aware of how we are going to tackle this season and they know what to expect.

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“There has been input from the senior players – Tom Huggins, Martyn Cull, Chris Swallow and myself – as to how we are going to challenge in Minor Counties cricket over the next three or four years.

“We are all coming towards the twilight of our careers, so it is important that we put a plan in place so that the county can continue to move forward.

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“We have realised that our links with the age group sides need to be better to identify young players, in order to give them the opportunity to come and train with us.

“We have got four under-17 spinners with us here today with a view to developing the younger age groups for Minor Counties cricket.

“It has been well documented about how we need to meet the average age requirement, so it is important that we play the young players but also remain as competitive as we can.”

With France and Warn no longer with the county and ex-Derbyshire professional Hassan Adnan having retired, there should be increased opportunities for the county’s youngster this season.

Along with Matt Hunn, who will be 19 when the season starts, the likes of Sasha Ward, 20, James Poulson, 18, and 22-year-old Archie Gravell, who has yet to appear for the full Suffolk side, will be in the frame.

Bishop said the appointment of Guy as player-coach would not only help to develop the younger players, but the more experienced ones too.

“The capped players need someone who has played at a higher level than us to learn from and also develop our games.

“Simon has come in and created a good buzz around the place with the intensity of his coaching sessions.

“He has opened things up to everybody so that they can have their say, and we will be having team meetings before and after games so everyone knows their role in the team.”

Suffolk finished fifth out of ten sides in the Eastern Division last season, and Bishop added: “Small margins – even an extra one or two per cent – can make the difference and turn a group into a championship-winning team.”

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