Mildenhall bowler Tristan Blackledge to make competitive debut for Suffolk as Sudbury's Adam Mansfield takes over as T20 coach
Tristan Blackledge will make his competitive debut for Suffolk in Sunday’s opening Twenty20 double-header of the 2022 season.
The Mildenhall all-rounder is included in the side to face Cambridgeshire at Wisbech CC (11am).
Blackledge made his first appearance for the full Suffolk side in last summer’s 50-over friendly against Essex 2nd XI at Chelmsford along with team-mate Matt Allen.
While Allen, who is at university, is unavailable along with Ben Parker (holiday) and Ben Shepperson (work commitments), Blackledge is in the side for Tom Rash’s first match as Suffolk’s new white-ball skipper.
The match also marks Adam Mansfield’s first as the county’s new T20 coach, a role the Sudbury wicket-keeper is relishing after it was decided to alleviate some of head coach Andy Northcote’s workload.
Mansfield said: “It’s a really exciting challenge for me and one I am really looking forward to. I am grateful to the county and Andy for allowing me the opportunity to progress my coaching career.
“I have known Tom for a long period of time now and I know how much Suffolk cricket means to him. It is a real honour for him to captain our county and I’m sure we can build a good working relationship to further develop the county.”
The national T20 competition, which is played in the opening weeks of the season, was scuppered by Covid last summer, but Mansfield is pleased to see the format return.
He said: “We are really looking forward to the return of T20 cricket at National Counties level. It’s an exciting format but also a challenging one as we don’t play a lot of it at club level.”
Suffolk will operate with effectively the same squad as was used in the 50-over competition last summer, with the exception of professional Joe Gatting, who has settled in Australia.
Mansfield said of the absence of Parker, Shepperson and Allen: “It is completely understandable that guys won’t be available for all fixtures and these guys will be missed.
“However, it does provide great opportunities for others around the squad to show what they can do.”
Besides Blackledge, left-arm wrist spinner Freddie Heldreich is available for selection, while Jacob Marston replaces Mansfield behind the stumps.
Mansfield said: “Tristan has performed really well in league cricket over the past few years and has put in huge effort during the winter. He fully deserves his opportunity.
“Freddie has done superbly well for Northamptonshire and it’s great to have him involved. He will add quality with the ball and hopefully we can provide him an environment to get himself ready for when Northamptonshire need him.
“Jacob will be taking the gloves for the T20 competition, illness and injury permitting. He's a top keeper/batsman and deserves the opportunity. I want him to be himself, play the game his own way and enjoy being in a team that backs you 100 per cent.”
With all-rounders Bern Claydon, Jack Beaumont, Darren Batch, Josh Cantrell, Darren Ironside and the recalled Ben Reece, Suffolk appear to have plenty of bowling options as well as strength in depth to their batting.
Suffolk squad: Ben Claydon, Alex Oxley, Darren Batch, Josh Cantrell, Darren Ironside, Jack Beaumont, Tom Rash (capt), Ben Reece, Jacob Marston (wkt), Tristan Blackledge, Freddie Heldreich. 12th man: M Dias.