Haverhill captain Liam Botten says goal is to win cup as competitive cricket returns
Even as recently as a fortnight ago, Haverhill Cricket Club were uncertain as to what type of matches – if any – they would be able to play in 2020.
The fear was that following the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship’s decision to abandon the season due to Covid-19, they would be limited to arranging their own friendlies.
However, there is now a genuine buzz at Manor Road, with all three of Haverhill’s teams having a batch of exciting fixtures to look forward to over the coming weeks.
For skipper Liam Botten and his first team, they have joined the Atkins and Crane Cup – a tournament organised by Suffolk coach Andy Northcote, named after the late Norman Atkins MBE and Paul Crane, who were well regarded within the local cricketing community.
Eight teams have been split in to two groups, with Haverhill coming up against Woolpit, Mildenhall II and Long Melford.
Sides will play home and away before a crossover finals day on September 12.
The hard work of Northcote has been a godsend for Botten, who is hoping his side can go on to make a real impact in the tournament.
“It’s brilliant. For the club to have secured at least seven competitive games is massive,” said Botten, who will take his side to Woolpit on Saturday for their opening encounter (12pm), having beaten Sawston & Babraham II in a warm-up at the weekend.
“Andy has done a fantastic job. As you would expect from him, it’s been done in a professional manner. Everything is in writing, he’s sorted the fixtures and umpires and we will be trialling new balls that will be put to the Two Counties before next season.
“We want to be competitive and our goal is to try to win the cup.
“We will be getting our best XI on the pitch each weekend to give us the best chance to win our
Mark Barrell (injured), Luke Youngs (work commitments) and Chris Palmer (unavailable) will not be taking part, but aside from that absent trio, Botten will have a full strength side to select from.
And for the young members of the team there is an added incentive to produce the goods, with the tournament’s top under-23 player – voted on by opposition teams – receiving a full set of Garrard & Flack kit as their prize.
“The likes of Harry Harding, Will Bailey and Callum Brunning all stand a real chance,” added Botten.
“They are all capable of winning games of cricket and Will has already got a couple of 50s in the friendlies, so he’s started well.
“They already influence games so there is no reason why they can’t aim for it.
“It’s a great prize and it will encourage all teams to give some of the youngsters the exposure to a good level of cricket.”
Haverhill IIs, meanwhile, have entered into a tri-series alongside Little Bardfield and Dunmow, with the second string suffering a big home defeat to the latter on Saturday. They will be looking to bounce back at home to Little Bardfield this weekend (12.30pm), while the thirds also have a host of matches lined up.
“We are good friends with Bardfield and Dunmow, so it is great to have sorted something with them,” said Botten.
“Some of the younger players from the third team will hopefully play in that tournament.
“And the thirds have fixtures lined up until September 12, apart from one weekend.
“They’ll be playing the likes of Sudbury, Worlington and Brockley, who will be combining their IIs and IIIs, so it is going to be a good standard for them.”
Haverhill have also entered three teams into this year’s extended ‘Thank You NHS’ Suffolk Cup.