BURY St Edmunds’ all-rounder Tom Rash is confident his side can challenge at the top of the Eastern Premier League as the new season commences on Saturday.
Bury welcome newly-promoted Copdock and Old Ipswichians to the Victory Ground (11am) as the club look to kick off the season with a comfortable victory on their quest to improve on their fifth place finish of last season.
Tom Huggins will captain the side, taking over duties from Justin Bishop, who will concentrate on his captains role with Minor Counties side Suffolk.
The nucleus of the team remains much of the same with the only noticable change among the ranks being the introduction of batsman Gareth James, who joins with a wealth of experience having featured at a County Cricket level with Essex.
An unprecedented number of young players gained experience at what is regarded at the highest level of cricket outside the first class game including James Sturgeon and Tom Robotham, and Rash believes that experience will paid dividends this campaign as he spoke about Bury’s seasons expectations, starting tomorrow, as well as the benefits of not including an overseas or professional player.
“We are all very much looking forward to the season starting, we have been training hard and it is now time to get on,” he said.
“Luckily for us we have hung on to the main core of our team and along with that have added Gareth James to the side who has played at a high level.
“It is fantastic for us to have so many young players who gained a lot of vital experience last season and we will be looking for them to push on now.
“As we have before, we will have no overseas or professional player in the side and I believe we will benefit from that because it increases your playing level because you are not relying on one key player.
“Copdock and OI have got one or two players that we know well from Minor Counties cricket with Suffolk and so we are well aware of their strengths and it will make for a competitive match. “We are all raring to go because we believe we can challenge for a top three finish if not win the league.”
n The second XI will this year be captained by Simon Aldous, looking to improve upon last season’s mid-table position in the Two Counties Division Three, while Kevin Dobson will skipper the third team in Division Five and Simon Loughe has agreed to captain the fourth XI in Division Eight West.
n More than 30 players and supporters attended Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club’s preparation day as part of NatWest Cricket Force last Saturday in preparation for the new season.