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Burwell & Exning will have strong focus on youth during shortened East Anglian Premier League campaign

Burwell & Exning are looking to make the most of the opportunity presented by the Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League returning without the threat of relegation this year.

Ahead of hosting last season’s runners-up Swardeston in the North Group at Exning on Saturday (11am) – with the competition running as two regionalised groups of six as part of the plan to salvage the 2020 campaign – youth development is at the forefront of new captain Sam Rippington’s mind.

Having finished second from bottom in 2019, he said: “Last season was tough. We had a very young side and we still have a very young side.

CRICKET - Burwell Captain Sam Rippington....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (38952506)
CRICKET - Burwell Captain Sam Rippington....PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (38952506)

“This is almost a blessing in disguise for us in terms of development. We have a couple of young lads coming into the side and it is a really good opportunity for them to maybe get 10 EAPL games under their belt heading into a competitive season next year.

“That is all we are looking to do really. We have a good cluster of young lads coming through and all we want to do is push them and try and get them to be the best they can be.”

Off-spinner Tom Newman is one of the mentioned new additions, having joined from Longstanton, but he could be far from the youngest to take to the field.

CRICKET - Bury St Edmunds (B) v Burwell & Exning (BE)..Pictured: Sam Rippington (BE) bowling...PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (38952478)
CRICKET - Bury St Edmunds (B) v Burwell & Exning (BE)..Pictured: Sam Rippington (BE) bowling...PICTURE: Mecha Morton.... (38952478)

“He is a fantastic young cricketer; an off-spinner who bats a bit, so he will come in at middle order,” said Rippington, who was appointed Cambridgeshire’s red ball captain for 2020 and has also taken on his club leadership role from Joe Tetley as he concentrates on his batting.

“We have got a couple of our under-15s which we are going to pop into the IIs this year but hopefully they will get a crack as well in the East Anglian Prem this year at some point.”

The side, who had been doing some restricted training at Burwell, finalised their preparations for a return to competitive action with a friendly at South Group side Bury St Edmunds on Saturday.

It provided a learning curve as they went down to a 200-run defeat, with Bury having reached 300-9 in their 50 overs.

The game gave new addition Josh Bowers, who Rippington believes has a big part to play after joining from Wisbech, a chance to make his debut alongside a homegrown talent.

“He has been playing for Cambridgeshire for many years; he is one of my best friends,” he said of Bowers.

“He is going to come in to slot in at four or five so he will be in the middle order but he is an absolutely fantastic keeper.

“And Luke Du-Plooy has come over from Bury and Worlington, so he is going to bat in middle order. He has come home as he is originally a Burwell lad and it is good to have him back.”

Rippington, who is the director of cricket at Hitchin Cricket Club, has welcomed a new look in the EAPL, which will all be played as 50-over format in 2020, instead of last season’s split with all-day.

“The kits are great. If we are going to play one-day cricket let’s play proper one-day cricket,” he said.