I have been umpiring in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Cricket League for the past nine years and over the course of the season I will tell you how our local teams got on, any outstanding performances and also any amusing incidents that happen in my matches.
But ahead of the start of the season, here is my run down of how our area’s main sides are likely to fare.
In Two Counties Division One Sudbury appear to be the team to beat after considerably strengthening by adding Bury St Edmunds’ skipper Tom Huggins and seeing Adam Mansfield return, also from the EAPL side.
With Darren Batch back as skipper, they will take some beating.
Mildenhall will be among the front runners again, and they too have strengthened their squad with the additions of Luke Youngs from Haverhill and Greg Palmer from Lakenheath.
They will be hoping Joe Reed can stay fully fit as he always gets plenty of runs, along with Tom Westley and Ben Shepperson. But I forsee that bowling could be their weakness.
Worlington did very well in their first season back in Division One and will be looking to maintain that with a very similar, hard-working squad. Richard and Graham Ford need to get runs and veteran Carl Manels wickets.
Hadleigh have performed well since promotion and this year they have brought in Dain Moreton, a top-order batsman and left-arm spinner, who has been playing grade cricket in Australia to replace Luke Ibbs.
I am expecting them to have a mid-table finish.
Halstead, newly promoted, will be looking to quickly establish themselves back in the top division and with Dylan Verreynne back, they could well prove to be the dark horse of the division, but they need to get off to a good start.
Haverhill were relegated from Division One but this could prove to be a blessing in disguise as it will give this young team a chance to get back to winning ways, although the loss of Luke Youngs is a big blow. They will rely again on Adam Deller for runs.
Lakenheath are the yo-yo team, often too good for Division Two but never good enough for Division One. The departure of last year’s captain Greg Palmer will be a big loss but I’m sure Shane Lynch will get the best out of his team.
Exning are a bit of an enigma, with arguably one of the best settings in the league they struggle to attract players and rely heavily on the Catley brothers and usually they don’t let them down. Another side struggling for the lack of a strike bowler.
Long Melford and Stowmarket are two teams with no star players but good all-round sides who should both do well this year in their respective divisions.
Finally, my predictions for Division One champions are Sudbury, but they will be hard pressed by Coggeshall and Mildenhall. I am umpiring at Coggeshall on Saturday, so will see first-hand how strong they are this season.