Late-starting Suffolk all-rounder Tom Rash wants to win some silverware before time is called on his Minor Counties career.
Former Bury St Edmunds player Rash made his debut in 2011, but it was only last season he really established himself as a regular in both the one-day and three-day formats.
The 30-year-old knows time is not on his side, especially with the ruling that the average age of Minor Counties sides — less the two oldest players — has to be below 26.
A change of lifestyle and a change of club — ex-Ipswich School pupil Rash returned to Copdock and Old Ipswichians after six seasons at Bury St Edmunds — saw Rash become an integral part of the county side last summer.
He said: “I had no issue with Bury St Edmunds — I would recommend the club to anyone — but I wanted to bat higher as I felt I had more to offer.
“I batted at seven, eight or even nine at Bury, but at Copdock the plan was for me to bat at five or six.
“My early-season form was good and I started batting at number four, and was soon batting there for Suffolk as well.”
Rash put his upturn in fortunes down to his improved fitness levels after taking up CrossFit, which incorporates several routines to improve an athlete’s muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance and flexibility.
Eighteen months ago he signed up at CrossFit in Bury St Edmunds, where head coach Richard Peck has since put him through his paces.
Rash, whose new-found fitness culminated in a man-of-the-match display against Cambridgeshire, said: “None of us are pro cricketers and I found it particularly difficult playing three-day cricket, which is effectively four straight days after also playing on a Saturday, and then still expecting to turn up fully fit for work on a Wednesday.”
He took four wickets in each innings, scored 74 and figured in a match-winning third-wicket stand of 143 as Suffolk successfully chased down 216 to win by four wickets against Cambridgeshire last year.
That was his standout display in the championship in which he was one of only four ever-present members of the Suffolk side that finished second behind eventual winners Cambridgeshire in the Eastern Division, scoring 394 runs at an average of 35.81 and claiming 13 wickets at 21.30.
That followed on from a match-winning display against Wiltshire (53no and 3-15) in the Minor Counties Trophy, in which he also scored 42no against Norfolk and 24 against Lincolnshire.
Prior to that though, Rash had to be withdrawn from the team on the opening day after fainting in the dressing room prior to the start — which later turned out to be as a result of contracting cryptosporidium.
After not making his debut until his mid-to-late 20s, which came in a three-day game against Northumberland at Jesmond, Rash believes he appreciates the opportunity to play Minor Counties cricket all the more.
He said: “I think that being a late starter you don’t take anything for granted and that drives you on to perform, particularly with the age restriction as I don’t want to be dropped from the side for being too old.
“It has made me hungry to succeed. I established myself in the team last year and I am extremely proud to play for Suffolk.
“I want to contribute to us hopefully winning the championship or one-day trophy. That is now my goal.”
Suffolk’s season against Hertfordshire in the Minor Counties Knockout Trophy at Ipswich School, Ivry Street, on April 27.