On the eve of the long-awaited return of their East Anglian Premier Cricket League derby with Mildenhall, Bury St Edmunds have been dealt a blow with Trinidad international Daron Cruickshank’s planned return being held up.
The all-rounder, who played the starring role in pulling The Victory Ground outfit clear of relegation danger last season — cracking four tons in his first six matches — was the cavalry charge expected to start turning a nightmare start to the season around in tomorrow’s derby at Wamil Way (11am).
But with club legend Justin Bishop — who had come out of retirement to cover the experience gap — having already made plans for the weekend, Bury’s players only got notification on Wednesday evening that Cruickshank’s arrival from his West Indies homeland had been held up due to the relevant paperwork not arriving.
But captain Sean Park, who admitted they were hoping for ‘a minor miracle’ for Cruikshank to receive the paperwork and manage to get on a flight in time for Saturday, is set to be available for the first time this season himself with his cricket master school duties easing up.
Bury go into the game against newly-promoted Mildenhall, who have West Indies legend Tino Best in their ranks, as the only side left in the division without a win after the first four weeks.
And with vice-chairman Bishop retired again, after playing the opening four games, and likely no Cruickshank, Park hopes his standout experience can make a big difference this weekend, with the side set to suffer from Alex Oxley, Josh Cantrell (both school) and Dominic Manthorpe (Leicester II) having games elsewhere.
“I am certainly desperate to get involved again. It was frustrating to follow online on TCS (Total Cricket Scorer) and see the boys struggling a bit,” said Park.
“I just want to get involved and, hopefully, provide the experience that will go a long way to improving things.
“It will be difficult this weekend with so many not available.
“Any team that goes into games not at full strength is going to find things very difficult going.
“But there is confidence in the side and over the next few weeks I am hoping I can add a bit of an addition to the team to get the youngsters firing.”
Since their promotion from the Two Counties Championship, Mildenhall have won one of their four matches, on the opening day at home to Vauxhall Mallards.
Three defeats have followed, the latest of which — a five-wicket defeat at unbeaten Great Withcingham on Saturday — captain Ben Shepperson felt they could and should have got more from.
And Park is under no illusions that coming up against a side on the back of a trio of defeats will not present anywhere near an easy route to their first victory of 2017.
“I think it will be a tough game,” he said. “Mildenhall will be itching to play us against in the Premier League as us and Burwell are their local derbies.
“I know Shepps has already stuck something up on Twitter, saying that the boys are looking forward to the weekend.
“If the weather plays its part it could potentially be a really good game.
“We obviously know how dangerous Joe Reed, Ben (Shepperson), Tino (Best) and Peter Worlington can be.
He added: “We have our challenge this weekend, but anyone who shys away from a challenge is always going to struggle.
“We are hopefully going to play some good cricket.
“Coops (vice-captain Sean Cooper) has said the boys have been playing well in stages.”