Bury St Edmunds CC vice-captain Justin Bishop is targeting a strong start to the upcoming EAPL season to avoid the relegation fears of last year.
The club kick off their East Anglian Premier League campaign with a tricky tie away to Norwich-based Vauxhall Mallards, who finished as runners-up last season to Swardeston, tomorrow (11am) and will be looking to improve on a disappointing seventh-placed finish.
After a disastrous run of form that saw the Victory Ground outfit without a win in their first seven matches, plunging them towards a relegation battle last season, Bishop is eager not to have a repeat this time round.
“Our main aim is to start strongly and hopefully win two or three of the first five games,” he said. “If we can secure our safety and then look to push into the top two or three, then that would be a successful season.
“Mallards will be a very tough match to start with.
“Ever since the league started they have always been there or thereabouts at the top and with Paul Bradshaw in their seam attack, they are always a threat, we’ll have to be at our best to get the win.
“However, I think we have worked harder as a group in the break and hopefully we will enjoy the success of having that group cohesion from the very start.”
The nucleus of the team remains much the same with a strong onus on home-grown young talent such as Sasha Ward and Tom Robotham, under the watchful stewardship of senior figures such as captain Tom Huggins and Bishop himself, gaining valuable experience in what is regarded as the highest level of cricket outside the county game.
One noticeable inclusion among Bury’s young bowling attack is the capture of talented fast bowler Matt Hunn from league and county rivals Sudbury.
The 19-year-old made the switch up the A134 after spending winter training with the country’s highest-ranked county side Warwickshire last month and Bishop has backed the club’s talented youth to make a big impression this season.
“It is great to see Matt join the ranks,” he added. “He has a good pace and will definitely give us something different and should make a big difference to us.
“I think all of our youngsters, including Sasha, Tom and Matt, will have a big impact and are all capable of impressing.
“We have marvellous young players and it is great to give them the opportunity to play and develop at a high standard.
“As the senior players in the squad, myself and Tom Huggins have a big responsibility, but hopefully we can be good role models and help bring the best out of those talented young players.”
Despite encouraging a focus on talented young players, Bishop conceded he would welcome the return of Indian first-class cricketer Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, should the opportunity arise.
The former Indian Premier League star steered the club away from the relegation zone last season with a host of dazzling displays and Bishop has revealed he would relish the opportunity to welcome him back among the Bury ranks, with a chance he could return at some stage during the season.
“There is a possibility that Abishek could return and if he does than that will be a huge boost for the club,” he said.
“He is a good senior role model and essentially won some games on his own last season and saved this club from a possible relegation, so it would be fantastic to have him back.”