Mildenhall skipper has his sights on the title

AIMING HIGH: Hamzah Ikram

AIMING HIGH: Hamzah Ikram

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Mildenhall Cricket Club head into the 2016 campaign with captain Ben Shepperson insisting that only winning the league will be a success.

The Wamil Way outfit are only looking up after finishing third in the Division One standings last season.

Shepperson said: “It’s plain and simple really, we want to be winning the league. Everyone at the club is aware of what we want to achieve.

“Our goal is to be playing East Anglian Premier League cricket within the next two years.”

Shepperson believes his squad are better equipped to deal with the rigours of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship.

“Winning the league has been our aim for the past couple of seasons, but maybe we have been one or two players light,” said Shepperson.

“Consistency will be the big feature of what we are trying to achieve and the depth of players we have in our squad should benefit that.

“There were a couple of games last season where we played some brainless cricket. We made the wrong decisions and didn’t learn our lessons.”

Essex vice-captain Tom Westley, who scored a 121 against Gloucestershire in their Specsavers Division Two match at Chelmsford on Monday, is unlikely to play as much for the club this season.

On Westley, who shared a second-wicket stand of 222 with Alastair Cook in the county clash, Shepperson said: “With Tom becoming vice-captain at Essex, I think he will be unlikely to play for us as much this season.

“The chances of getting him so regularly look quite slim, although he may feature in two or three games for us.”

Mildenhall have re-signed talented Australian Steve Taylor as their overseas player, with Ziaf Kulasi also returning to the club from Worlington.

Taylor returns to Mildenhall having been crowned Victoria Premier Cricket Ryder Medal winner for 2015-16.

As captain of Northcote, he topped the poll conducted by his league and joins a list which includes the likes of former England player Paul Collingwood.

“The way and professional manner Stephen approaches the game is something I want the rest of my players to strive to be like.

“He missed eight or nine games last season because of injury, so I’m only expecting him to improve on what he achieved for us.

“He still scored almost 700 runs on a Saturday, so it would be great if he could reach 1,000 this year. He is also a good death bowler for us. He bowls full and straight and is good to set a field to.”

Pete Worthington now qualifies as an English player so will also feature regularly, along with new signings Hamzah Ikram (bowler) and all-rounder Kyle Morrison.

Shepperson believes having Worthington available for selection will only boost the club’s chances of glory on the field.

“Pete has played heaps of first class cricket for Australia in the past and he makes a big difference to me as captain,” admitted Shepperson.

“He is somebody I can go and talk to and his knowledge of the game is second-to-none. He will bring a lot of experience to the team and he is happy to encourage the younger players.”

Having a strong first XI is likely to have a knock-on effect throughout the club.

“We are going to have a few selection headaches this season,” said Shepperson.

“Hopefully this will see the 2nd XI having a strong season too. It would be good to see them pushing for a top-three spot in their league.”