Michael Godwin and George Rhodes to make Suffolk debuts against Lincolnshire at Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club
Suffolk hand debuts to two players in their opening three-day NCCA Championship match of the season.
Michael Godwin and George Rhodes are both included in the side to face Lincolnshire at Bury St Edmunds CC, starting on Sunday at 11am.
Godwin, who plays for Witham CC, is currently the leading run-scorer in this season’s Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League, with 660 runs at an average of 60.00.
Rhodes, 28, is the son of former Worcestershire and England wicket-keeper Steve Rhodes and is currently contracted to first-class county Leicestershire. He has played 34 first-class matches.
Suffolk head coach Andy Northcote said: “Michael Godwin is a 22-year-old opening bat who plays for Witham, where he is currently the leading run-scorer in this season’s EAPL.
“George plays in the same league as Ben Shepperson and comes highly recommended by his colleagues at Leicestershire, where he is in the final year of his contract.
“He's a top-order batter that can bowl off-spin and will add that first-class experience to the top of the order. He played a game for Lincs last year and joins us for the Championship season.”
The pair’s inclusion are among four changes to the Suffolk side that defeated Cheshire on Sunday to qualify for the quarter-finals of this season’s NCCA Trophy.
Sudbury pair Darren Batch and Paddy Sadler are unavailable along with Mildenhall's Matt Allen while debutant Josh Frame drops out, with three-day regulars Ben Shepperson and Matt Wareing (Mildenall) both returning for their first outings of the season.
Despite winning the inaugural Eastern Division One title last season before losing the NCCA Championship Play-Off Final to Oxfordshire, Northcote is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “We should expect nothing and as soon as you do, the game bites you. This is cricket at the highest amateur level. It’s tough and it’s brutal at times.
“We have a squad of players that are experienced, though relatively young in age, that can compete and win the competition if we play well and do the basics well. Things still need to go our way for this to happen so it should be a tough, but decent competition to follow.”
Northcote is looking forward to Suffolk returning to play at the Victory Ground, after the county did not play at Bury St Edmunds last season.
“The wicket, now under the stewardship of Will from Parkers Pitches, has been very flat this year, so it will be interesting to see what it is like for the three-day game.
“Bury St Edmunds, as a club, have been in a great place this year, both on and off the field, so I am confident they will host us as well as ever too,” he said.
Although Suffolk defeated their visitors by an innings and 78 runs when the two sides met at Sleaford last season, Northcote is expecting a tough opening encounter.
He said: “Lincolnshire have announced an exceptionally strong side and our analyst is working on providing the relevant information for us. It's great to see Mark Footitt in the squad along with Joe Kendall and Tom Keast, three exceptional cricketers and ambassadors for the NCCA.”
Suffolk: Michael Godwin, Alex Oxley, George Rhodes, Ben Claydon, Ben Parker, Ben Shepperson, Andy Northcote (wkt), Jack Beaumont (capt), Josh Cantrell, Tom Rash, Matt Wareing.