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Mildenhall Cricket Club have high hopes for 2020 East Anglian Premier League season

Asked what Mildenhall’s target was for the truncated 2020 Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League campaign, captain Ollie Lovejoy boldly replied: “Why not try to win it?”

The season, which had been due to get under way in late April before Covid-19 swept through, will finally get under way on Saturday with a series of health and safety guidelines in place.

A vote among the 12 top flight clubs has resulted in the league being split in half, from which a North and South Group has been created. It provides teams with a total of 10 matches, and the two teams that top the standings will have the opportunity to pit themselves against each in a play-off later in the year.

Mildenhall Cricket Club
Mildenhall Cricket Club

Crucially, relegation has been taken off the table, meaning all clubs are safe in the knowledge they will remain Premier League outfits in 2021.

And newly-appointed skipper Lovejoy believes his Mildenhall side, who open up their North Group fixtures at home against Great Witchingham (11am), can benefit from that freedom.

“It looks like a brilliant format,” he said. “There is no promotion or relegation and we will get at least 10 games when at one point it seemed we would get nothing, so it’s win-win.

“We have got a lot of young talent in the squad and they are all raring to go.

“And while there might be a lot of youngsters, they’ve been playing Premier League cricket for a little while now so we have plenty of experience.

“Why not try to win it? When you look at the options we have, we have the skills to do it and hopefully we can showcase that.

“We’ll aim for the top and try to get into that play-off at the end. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks.”

A combination of the pandemic’s financial impact and the season being significantly shortened has resulted in Mildenhall abandoning plans to bring an overseas player to Wamil Way this year.

However, the club has still pulled off a transfer coup with the arrival of Suffolk all-rounder Jake Foley from fellow Premier League side Saffron Walden.

Lovejoy said: “Jake is a massive addition to the squad, especially with us having no overseas this time.

“He adds so much value. He’s a fantastic batsman, a fantastic bowler and gives us another string to our bow.”

Mildenhall have also recruited wicketkeeper Jack Potticary, who last season turned out for Shenfield in Division One of the Essex League, and Dominic Palmer from neighbouring Lakenheath.

Palmer scored 911 runs at an average of 47.95 for Lakenheath in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division One in 2019, as well as snaring seven wickets with the ball in hand.

“Both of them are exciting additions and they have really bolstered up the squad,” added Lovejoy.

* Mildenhall warmed up for Saturday’s opener with an 87-run home friendly victory over Premier League newboys Sawston & Babraham last weekend.

New additions Potticary (68) and Palmer (60) did much of the damage with the bat, while Tristan Blackledge was the pick of the Mildenhall bowlers.

Blackledge ended his six overs with figures of 3-4, with Foley and Ashley Clark weighing in with two wickets apiece during the successful defence.

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