Two of the area’s rival cricket captains have landed leading roles with the Suffolk County team.
Woolpit’s Andy Northcote was announced as successor to Bobby Flack at Monday night’s AGM of Suffolk association, while Bury St Edmunds skipper Michael Comber was confirmed as the county’s new vice-captain.
Suffolk’s new coach Northcote has outlined his vision for the future success of the Minor Counties side.
Northcote, who is standing down as captain of Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League side Woolpit to be replaced by Craig Estlea, said he was ‘really excited’ by the challenge of improving the fortunes of the county who finished bottom of the Eastern Division last season.
The 32-year-old, who was born in South Africa and is an Italian international, explained his vision for the next four years.
Northcote said: “Ultimately, it is to try and build a platform where we are regarded as the premier Minor County in the country by winning the Championship Eastern Division by 2018, retain it 2019 and then win the Minor Counties Championship 2019, and also to reach the final of the Minor Counties Trophy in 2018.”
Northcote said he wants Suffolk to play a minimum of 90 per cent home-grown players –those who play for a local club, live or were born within the county – in 2017, and increase the number of players in the team who have represented the county at youth level to 40 per cent.
He said: “Creating a pathway from Suffolk Youth Cricket to playing in the Minor County team is a key part of the new structure.
“Suffolk YC players made up as low as eight per cent of the Minor Counties Trophy team in 2014. “
Again, this figure fluctuates but at its best over the last three years, it reached 21 per cent.
“We want to create a pathway conducive to developing players to not only represent but to put in match-winning performances for Suffolk in the Minor Counties Championship or Trophy – and why not even higher?
“This is achieved by working towards a clear progression throughout the youth age groups, identifying and developing high-potential players and developing players to fill potential gaps in the 1st XI three or four years out.”
Northcote will sit on the selection committee along with county captain Tom Huggins and former Suffolk batsman Andy Squire, who still plays for Mildenhall, and they will be assisted by scouts at each of the four EAPL and Two Counties clubs.
He added that Woolpit CC, who are allowing Suffolk to use their facilities free of charge, will be used as the county’s summer training base.
Northcote continued: “Our aim will be to train once a week in order to help smooth the transition from the development side to the 1st XI as well as to get players performing well in the Minor Counties team.”