Suffolk’s spirit at its best since Bishop began

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Skipper Justin Bishop believes Suffolk’s team spirit is the best it has been since he started playing Minor Counties cricket.

The 32-year-old all-rounder, who made his debut in 2005, played in the team that won the Eastern Division title that year and also the Minor Counties Knockout Cup in 2007.

Suffolk have qualified for the quarter-finals of this season’s Unicorns Knockout Trophy after building on the foundations put in place last season.

Suffolk topped group two on run-rate and they will now be at home to Devon in the last eight on June 15.

Bishop said: “There was such a good team atmosphere last year — it was better than I have ever known it since I started playing for Suffolk.

“I think that was down to the youngsters who played and Simon Guy’s influence as coach.

“We had an environment where everyone was encouraged to speak at team meetings, whereas when I first started young or new players were made to feel they should be seen and not heard.

“But times have changed and that is not the case nowadays, and the team atmosphere has continued into this season.”

Last season Suffolk failed to get beyond the group stage of the Minor Counties Knockout Trophy, rebranded the Unicorns Knockout Trophy this season, and finished runners-up in the Eastern Division of the championship.

Bury all-rounder Bishop is confident Suffolk can carry their one-day form into the three-day format, starting away to Bedfordshire on June 8.

He said: “Last season everyone said we were in a transitional year, but we finished second in the championship and we want to go one better than that this year.

“We did so well to beat Cumberland in our final game and then found out that Cambridgeshire had won as well against Northumberland, meaning we finished runners-up.

“Availability of players and avoiding injuries are key to the success of any Minor Counties side.

“We have got a chance of winning it this season, just as we felt we had a chance of winning it last season.

“We have spent more time on fitness work in pre-season to give ourselves the best chance possible.

“In Minor Counties cricket, where you only play six three-day fixtures, the margins are small and before you know it you can find you have no chance of winning the championship and that is it for another year.”

Suffolk’s first home match in this year’s Minor Counties Championship will take place at Bury’s Victory Ground from Sunday, June 22, to Tuesday, June 24 (11am all days).

n Bury’s Victory Ground will host the Unicorns Knockout Trophy quarter-final between Suffolk and Devon on June 15.