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Haverhill Cricket Club captain Ben Wilkins and chairman Joe Woodley believe in possible mid-table finish ahead of Dunmow fixture





Haverhill Cricket Club captain Ben Wilkins and chairman Joe Woodley believe they can achieve a mid-table finish in Division Two of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship this year as they prepare to get their campaign under way tomorrow.

The side survived the drop to Division Three with a nail-biting 57-run victory on the final day of last season against promotion-chasing Dunmow - who they face in this weekend’s curtain-raiser at Manor Road (12.30pm).

Playing Dunmow will bring back fond memories for Wilkins, a bright light in what was another gloomy season for Haverhill.

Haverhill captain Ben Wilkins was the division’s top wicket-taker last season Picture; Mark Westley
Haverhill captain Ben Wilkins was the division’s top wicket-taker last season Picture; Mark Westley

“We’re hoping to be in a much better position this year, play better cricket and have better individual performances to put us mid-table, where we want to be,” the skipper said.

“I think Joe (Woodley) and I have had some good conversations. I think he’s fairly realistic of where we are as a club and the playing side of things. He’s fully aware of what we are and where we are at the moment.”

Woodley, who is about to embark on his first campaign as chairman of the club, is incredibly realistic about what can be achieved by Haverhill this season, after he previously admitted performances on the pitch ‘might get worse before they get better’.

Joe Woodley is about to embark on his first season as chairman of Haverhill Cricket Club.
Joe Woodley is about to embark on his first season as chairman of Haverhill Cricket Club.

He said: “It’s about making sure on the field we can sustain where we are at as best as we possibly can, it’s going to be a tough year. Off the field it’s about trying to accelerate.

“If they (the players) all perform to the levels we know they can, they’re more than capable of staying in that league and looking at mid-table at least.

“It would be a massive achievement (finishing mid-table), especially for Ben who has had a tough few years on the field as captain.”

After avoiding the relegation trapdoor via the last-day drama, some may have expected Haverhill to strengthen their side, but Wilkins, who was the division’s top wicket-taker last season, admitted recruiting new additions has been ‘tough’ after a few players, who the club were interested in signing, asked for a ‘financial incentive’ to join. So, it’s as you were in terms of personnel for Haverhill heading into the new campaign.

Craig Williams starred last time against Dunmow. Picture: Mecha Morton
Craig Williams starred last time against Dunmow. Picture: Mecha Morton

Woodley said: “It is a bit (frustrating). We’ve got the money to pay them, we just don’t want to. We’re not that sort of club and actually, we’ve got a lot of homegrown talent and we’re going to focus on that.

“If we got relegated but those youngsters did their best and they’re better next year, that’s what I’d rather have than stay in a division with people who have no buy-in to the club and who are thwarting the opportunities for our youngsters, who are absolutely fantastic.”