Skipper challenges Mildenhall players to be battling at the top end of the East Anglian Premier League again in 2019
Captain Tom Rash is eager to see Mildenhall competing at the top end of the East Anglian Premier League for a second consecutive season, but he has warned his team-mates that it is likely to be an even tougher assignment this time around.
In what was just their second campaign back in the area’s top flight division, Mildenhall finished in a highly respectable third position behind champions Sudbury and second-placed Swardeston.
The challenge is to at least match that feat during 2019, yet with teams now well aware of their quality, skipper Rash is under no illusions as to the size of the task in hand.
“It was a really good year (in 2018) and we took some massive steps forward. The aim was to compete at the top and we did that,” said the bowler.
“But at times people may have felt we flattered to deceive because we beat Sudbury and Swardeston, but then lost to some of the teams lower down.
“Nobody is going to underestimate us or take us lightly this year so it is going to be tougher.
“We want to build on last year but every side has strengthened and will be looking to do the same thing.
“It would be far too bold or disrespectful to the other sides to say we will win the league, but we want to be right up there competing again.”
Four new players have been added to the squad at Wamil Way, the most intriguing of which is Ankit Sharma.
The left-arm spin bowler has arrived with Indian Premier League experience, having previously turned out for the Rajasthan Royals among other franchises.
“Ankit is an unbelievable signing,” said Rash. “He has so much experience and has played with some of the best players in the world.
“I am not sure he has too much experience of cricket in England but he looks to be the perfect professional to have on board and I am excited to play alongside him.”
Top-order batsman Danny Wilson, who played for the club in the early 2000s, has also returned, while off-spinner Rakshith Rao and wicketkeeper Ollie Lovejoy join the ranks as James Stamatis and Nick Maiolo depart.
Rash is particularly excited about the wealth of bowling options within the squad, both in terms of pace and spin.
“With Ankit, Rao, Murtaza Hussain and Jack Bowman we have some good spin options,” he said.
“We will have to play it by ear in terms of how many spinners we play, but if it does end up being a dry summer we have some real depth there.
“There is also a lot of good seam bowlers. Tristan Blackledge is back for another season, Hugo Douglas is fit and we have some good youngsters like Alex Cruickshank.”
Mildenhall begin their season on Saturday at newly-promoted Saffron Walden (11am).