Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club have lost last season’s captain and will be led by a new one this year – but the big talking point at the club is a former skipper coming out of retirement to help supplement what must be their youngest side.
Justin Bishop, now 35, announced he had played his last competitive game of a great career that saw him play 25 first-class matches for Essex and captain Suffolk for six seasons at the end of the 2015 season.
But after being made vice-chairman at the Victory Ground club for whom he served for many years, including as captain, Bishop has answered a call to step into the breach once more ahead of Bury’s 2017 East Anglian Premier League campaign.
Sean Park will be the official captain, but, as a result of combining his club cricket with his master of cricket full-time job at a private Cambridgeshire school, believes he will realistically only be available for just over half of Bury’s 22 matches.
This means Park will need to share the duties with Bishop and his vice-captain Sean Cooper, with the latter signing from Worlington.
And Park believes Bury, with such a youthful squad this year – including promising 15-year-old former Woolpit starlet Tom Oxley – are very fortunate to have their former skipper back out on the pitch.
“We have been asked to finish in the top half,” he said, after last season’s fourth-from-bottom campaign (9th out of 12).
“Realistically, I would not expect us to finish in the top four as we have such a young squad.
“Justin is doing the club a massive favour by coming out of retirement to add some experience.
“With such a young side, we have not got to be challenging for titles, but we have got the ability to beat the best.”
One big plus for Bury, other than keeping the young nucleus of emerging EAPL talents such as Ben Curran and Dominic Manthorpe together as well as adding another young Suffolk player in Josh Cantralle, is the return to the club later this season of Daron Cruickshank as their overseas professional.
Currently playing in the West Indies, the Trinidad & Tobago batsman was a massive reason why Bury are still playing in the top tier of regional cricket this term, with the 31-year-old having racked up 726 runs at an average of 121 – including four centuries in six matches – from his 10 innings after joining halfway through the campaign.
It is expected that he will be available by their fourth match of the season – at Copdock & Old Ipswichian on May 6.
The club’s 2015 and 2016 captain Mike Comber will be playing against them for new side Frinton this year, while Bury open their campaign at home to Great Witchingham tomorrow (11am).
* Bury’s Dominic Mantorpe is in the Suffolk squad for their season opener this weekend, a Unicorns Trophy one-day match against Hertfordshire on Sunday at North Mymms CC (11am).