Mildenhall captain Ben Shepperson is confident his side have all the qualities needed to lead them on a title charge and finally fulfil their undoubted potential.
Last year was one to forget, as a promising campaign in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship slipped away, seeing them eventually finish up on the outer fringe of the top six.
But with a new overseas professional, in 23-year-old Australian Melbourne District all-rounder Steve Taylor, coming in alongside Essex trialist Jonathan Steel, Haverhill star Luke Young and the returning Greg Palmer (Lakenheath), he believes people should write them off at their peril this season.
“Last year ended up being a bits and pieces year but this year we look more well structured,” he said, ahead of travelling to last year’s runners-up Mistley (1pm), in a tough looking opening day fixture.
“The vibe around the club is a lot more professional and this year I think we have got a good side and I think we are fully capable of winning the league.
“We have got to start and finish well and be consistent throughout, but we are hoping for a full season from Joe Reed this year and that can make a difference.”
Coggeshall, Sudbury and Wivenhoe are the three sides he picked out to be their main challengers for the title, with a place in the East Anglian Premier League, via a play-off in top spot, the ultimate aim.
Australian Taylor has taken little time to impress in the weekend’s friendlies with Yorkshire Premier League side Barnard Castle (won) and Foxton (narrow defeat with a mixed side) and will open the bowling while batting at four or five in the order.
“To be a captain at that level of cricket at 23 you have got to be talented and having watched him in the first two games, he looks a really decent cricketer,” said Shepperson.
“His bowling is nice and sharp and he will create problems for teams in our league taking the new ball.”
Essex batsman Tom Westley is again set to be available for a handful of matches to add to Mildenhall’s arsenal and may play a big role having recruited Steel. But star bowler Tymal Mills has moved on from Essex to Sussex.
In a new ruling this season, Mildenhall could still relaise their East Anglian Premier League ambitions through the play-offs by finishing as runners-up, but only if the title winners decide against promotion to the highest regional level.
Rumours of an East Anglian Premier League Division Two carries on, but nothing has been officially tabled with 2017 understood to be the earliest possible date.
Worlington, set to be led again by captain Richard Ford, begin their Division One campaign away to promoted Halstead (1pm). They will be looking to improve on eighth.
Lakenheath were relegated from Division One last season and start life in Division Two at home to Copford (1pm).
Burrough Green have two teams in the Mr Cricket CCA League this season. The first-team in the Division Two South and the seconds in Division Six South.