MILDENHALL captain Steve Lankester believes this season’s Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One looks the strongest it has ever been during his 26-year career.
Lankester, who captained Mildenhall to a second-place finish last season, is wary of the challenges facing his youthful side as they prepare for their season to start tomorrow.
He said: “I’d like to think we can challenge for second place, a title win would be great.
“We came so close last time and we had a great season, but I think we could become victims of our own success. Wivenhoe could be big challengers for promotion, but there are so many good teams in Division One.
“I’ve been playing for 25/26 years at this level and I think the division is stronger than it has ever been.
“With the squad we had last year, we could’ve finished second in the East Anglian Premier League.”
Mildenhall has seen a summer of activity with Essex youngsters Tymal Mills and Tom Westley likely to feature more for their county this season.
But Lankester claims the emphasis on youth will ultimately benefit the club and cites the signing of former Pakistan Under-19s captain Azeem Ghumman as proof of this.
“He is regarded as a first class player there,” said Lankester. “He’s only 21 so hopefully he can come into the club and fit in with the other younger players.”
The skipper also claims the club have no pressure on them to replicate or beat last season’s second-place finish.
Mildenhall start their season with a home match against Haverhill tomorrow (1pm).
Meanwhile, Woolpit’s Italian international Andy Northcote believes his side can push on to claim a top three position.
He said: “We have signed Mike Jones, whose from New Zealand, and with two or three more additions we can finish in the top three.”
Woolpit travel to Frinton-on-Sea, while newly-promoted Lakenheath host Ipswich, both tomorrow (1pm).
TWO COUNTIES LEAGUE
Division One: Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Woolpit.
Division Two: Mildenhall II, Worlington.
Division Three: Bury St Edmunds II, Stowmarket.
Division Four: Earl Stonham, Needham Market, Woolpit II.
Division Five: Bury St Edmunds III, Mildenhall III, Tuddenham St Mary.
Division Six: Mildenhall IV.
Division Seven: Stowmarket II.
Division Eight West: Battisford and District, Brockley II, Bury St Edmunds IV, Elveden, Lakenheath II, Nowton, Walsham-le-Willows, Worlington II.
Ladies Challenge: Mildenhall, Woolpit.
Ladies Twenty20: Battisford and District, Bury St Edmunds.