Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club hopeful South African duo Justin Broad and Chris Benjamin will make a big impact in the East Anglian Premier League
With a second talented South African player having now made it into the UK, Bury St Edmunds are looking to be the surprise package in this season’s Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League.
The Covid-19 truncated season – split into two regionalised sections of six – begins with the visit of last season’s seventh-placed side, Copdock & Old Ipswichian, to The Victory Ground tomorrow in the South Group (11am).
They finished one place above the Wolfpack finished last term, which had followed a number of underwhelming seasons having to stave off relegation for the two-times winners (2005 and 2006).
But Bury, under new young captain Ben Seabrook – with Sean Park’s availability issues leading to the switch – go into this campaign full of optimism.
Two overseas players – with last year’s leading run-scorer Justin Broad set to be joined from next weekend by Essex II and Durham MCCU-experienced all-rounder Chris Benjamin – are set to give them an extra edge when other clubs have abandoned their recruitment plans.
Chairman Paul Whittakker said: “For a period of time there were very limited flights out of South Africa and Justin was lucky enough to get on one but Chris was not.
“But he did manage to get one last week and he is now in the UK but will not be able to play this weekend because of his quarantine period. We are obviously delighted to have him.”
While others have dropped their plans for overseas players due to the financial cost, Bury have benefited from both Broad and Benjamin being funded to be in the UK.
Benjamin, who can play wicketkeeper but is not expected to do so at Bury, is with First-Class ranked Durham MCCU while Broad won a place on the MCC Young Cricketers programme.
The latter has been postponed until next season but Broad was back at The Victory Ground for the 200-run friendly win over Burwell & Exning on Saturday. And he said it was an easy decision to return to the club.
“The boys were really nice last year so I wasn’t thinking of going anywhere else,” he said.
“I was back in South Africa for two months and then luckily I got a flight over here just in time, so it is great to be here and great to be playing cricket again.”
Having been caught off the final ball of the first over for four on Saturday, he is hoping to deliver a much longer stay at the crease when the real action starts.
“It happens,” he said. “It is just nice to be back playing in the middle as I have been netting a lot, so I have got to remind myself you can’t drive it every ball.”
He is looking forward to the impact the pink ball, introduced this season with the coloured clothing for the all-50-over format, can have on games.
“The pink ball flies and definitely swings less so there should be some big scores out there,” he said.
There will be no pressure of relegation this season and no official title winners, though the top two group winners will be asked if they want to play off.
“In our group we have Sudbury and Frinton who ended one and three last year, so hopefully we can cause a few upsets there and get a few wins which would be nice,” said Broad.
More by this authorRussell Claydon
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