Ben Shepperson believes Mildenhall should have greater ambitions than simply surviving in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier Cricket League, writes Liam Apicella.
The Wamil Way-based outfit are the division’s new boys, having been promoted as Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division One champions in 2016.
It brings an end to the club’s decade-long absence from the county’s top flight, but rather than simply survive, the team has been challenged to finish in and around the halfway mark of the 12-club league by their skipper.
“As a club we would be happy to stay up. That has to be the club’s aim,” said Shepperson.
“But from a personal point-of-view, we have a team that should compete well in every game and cause a few upsets.
“I would like to think we will be looking towards mid-table — anywhere between sixth and eighth would be good.”
Tino Best’s arrival will ramp up expectation levels — particularly in terms of taking all 10 opposition wickets — but Steve Taylor’s departure has left the squad over a 1,000 runs down on last season.
The quality, according to Shepperson, is already there to fill the void left by the Australian opener, but now it is down to those to go out and prove it with the bat.
“Steve’s contribution has been fantastic, but now it is time for the rest of us to stand up,” added the captain.
“My only concern is those from five to eight were not tested too much last season because Steve and the likes of Joe Reed at the top of the order were so consistent.
“They will be tested this year, but they are good players down the order so they need to show it.
“If everyone can add 100 runs to their totals from last year, that will cover Steve and mean his loss is not as big.”
Vauxhall Mallards, who finished fifth in the EAPL last season, will be Mildenhall’s first competitive visitors of the year on Saturday (11am).