Bexhill Cricket Club is targeting another strong showing during the 2017 Sussex Premier League season.
Johnathan Haffenden’s side came fourth in 2015 and third last year - the club’s highest finishes since winning the title in 1997.
Haffenden said: “Obviously you want to improve every year, but it’s always tough. We’re playing the best standard of cricket in the county and come across a lot of good players.
“It’s a strong league this year and every Premier League side is going to think ‘we’ve got a chance of winning it’. Certainly we’re going to have to compete hard this year.
“We want to keep progressing and if we win the league it will be perfect, but we’ll take it one game at a time and see how we go.”
Jake Lewis has replaced Sam Roberts as the club’s overseas player and Bradley Payne has come on board from Hastings Priory, but on the whole Bexhill’s squad is pretty similar to last summer.
“I’m happy with what we’ve got; we’ve got strong, good young cricketers,” continued Haffenden. “The overseas (Lewis) looks to have settled in well and if we perform, I’m sure we’re going to do okay.
“We’ve just got to make sure we’re on the ball and don’t fall away. Apart from me and maybe Malcolm (Johnson), a lot of people have played that standard, but I wouldn’t say they are overly experienced. Although youth gets you a long way, you need to use your heads and produce some good cricket.”
Bexhill, who have won one and lost one of their two cup matches so far this term, will get their league campaign underway with a long trip to newly-promoted Middleton today (Saturday).
“It’s nice everyone’s had a decent run in before the league this season and I think we’re all raring to go,” said Haffenden, who described his Middleton counterpart Sean Heather as an ‘unbelievable player’.
Haffenden is likely to select a second spinner for today’s match having gone with just the one slow bowler in last weekend’s Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup victory at home to Glynde & Beddingham.
The Sussex League playing format is slightly different this year. The first five and last four games will be win or lose 50-overs-per-side limited overs affairs, with timed matches (ie. the format used in previous years) in between.
“I don’t mind the 50-over stuff (limited overs),” added Haffenden. “You’ve got to move with the times and I think it will be quite good for the league. I’m looking forward to it.
“We’re pretty lucky that we have a lot of all-rounders - on Saturday I could’ve had seven bowlers and eight out-and-out batters - so it won’t change us one bit. We’ll approach it the same way and we’re not really a draw side anyway.
“But the teams that have a bloke bowl 20 overs week in, week out, you’re looking around and thinking ‘where are they going to find their other bowlers from’?”
Bexhill’s 2017 Sussex Premier League fixtures: May 6 Middleton (a), May 13 Roffey (h), May 20 Brighton & Hove (a), May 27 Preston Nomads (h), June 3 East Grinstead (h), June 10 Ansty (a), June 17 Horsham (h), June 24 Cuckfield (a), July 1 Hastings Priory (h), July 8 Roffey (a), July 15 Middleton (h), July 22 Brighton & Hove (h), July 29 Preston Nomads (a), August 5 East Grinstead (a), August 12 Ansty (h), August 19 Horsham (a), August 26 Cuckfield (h), September 2 Hastings Priory (a).
See our comprehensive sports coverage in the Observer every Friday.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!