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Haverhill Cricket Club's new captain Ben Wilkins insists side will fight to preserve their Division One status

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Newly-installed Haverhill captain Ben Wilkins has said they must keep believing they can turn around a dire season and avoid relegation from Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship.

Fourth-placed Halstead visit Manor Road on Saturday (12pm) to face a side currently stuck at the bottom of the table with just one solitary win from 11 completed matches.

Just nine fixtures remain after Wilkins’ first game since taking over the on-field captaincy from Liam Botten saw them pick up just six points in a 31-run defeat at fellow strugglers Braintree.

Ben Wilkins has stepped up to skipper Haverhill. Picture: Mecha Morton
Ben Wilkins has stepped up to skipper Haverhill. Picture: Mecha Morton

But their new leader, following stepping up from vice-captain due to availability and health issues for Botten, says although it appears a daunting challenge, they are far from giving up on playing in Division One next season.

“It is one of those where we are going to have to try our best until the end of the season,” said the player who has been with the club since the under-7s.

“We have got a couple of close games coming up, we have got Halstead Saturday, Maldon and Woolpit. A couple of them games we could potentially win if we are going to be on top of our game and then we will see where we are.

“It is certainly looking like a tough ask but we are certainly not writing ourselves off just yet.”

He added: “I think we can only just keep doing what we are doing and if we can play to the best of our abilities and keep putting 100 per cent in then if we can’t win the games we need to to stay up then unfortunately it is going to be a season in Division Two.”

He identified their key problems this season as being a lack of Division One experienced players, following a number of departures, as well as failing to match up good displays with the bat and ball.

The latter is something he is certainly pressing to be rectified before it is too late.

“So far we’ve put one half, either batting or bowling, and we haven’t followed up with the other half,” he said.

It was a case in point with Saturday’s key game at fellow strugglers Braintree.

After a 90-minute rain delay their Essex hosts were bowled out for 128, two overs short of the rain-reduced 40. Wilkins led by example with his 3-18 from seven overs.

But both Haverhill openers departed for ducks with Chris Palmer (36) one of only two players to reach double figures. They were bowled out for 96 in 32 overs.

It sees the points average gap to Braintree in the first position out of the bottom two relegation zone widen from 1.2 points to 2.36.

On taking the captaincy itself, former Suffolk youngster Wilkins said it was a proud moment.

“It is an honour to be able to take it on until the end of the season,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep us up in Division One, which is going to be a tough ask but we have just got to back ourselves and hope for the best.”

Saturday will be the first time they have faced Halstead this season. Travel issues under Covid-car sharing restrictions led to Haverhill calling off their trip to north Essex earlier in the campaign.

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