Lowestoft Town Cricket Club ready for season opener against Vauxhall Mallards

16:51 19 April 2012

Andy Thompson welcoming new recruit Damian Abeyratna to Denes Oval. Picture: Mick Howes

Andy Thompson welcoming new recruit Damian Abeyratna to Denes Oval. Picture: Mick Howes

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IT may only be mid-April, but sounds of leather and willow are already reverberating around grounds in Suffolk and Norfolk.

And tomorrow, Lowestoft Town CC’s first team will set out on their new campaign – with league action running until September 15 this year.

Lowestoft’s first team will compete with 11 other sides this season in the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division – and it looks set to be one of the “toughest” league campaigns ahead.

With a new overseas recruit, three other new signings and a new first team captain – there have been quite a few changes at Denes Oval in the close season.

Club captain Peter Sims takes over the first team captaincy once more, and he admits that after finishing eighth last season, Town will be looking to blend a talented pool of youngsters and established senior players into “a team that will be competitive in what will be the toughest Premier Division yet”.

Lowestoft start away at Vauxhall Mallards tomorrow – and they could immediately come up against one of the youngsters who emerged from their conveyor belt of talent, in the form of Tom Brice, who has moved to the Brundall side.

Sims told The Journal: “Tom will be a big miss for us as he was a very popular at the club as well as being a fantastic opening bowler and top order batsman.

“But we wish him well, except on Saturday, and his departure will then give others an opportunity.

“Obviously there are a few changes at the Oval this season. I have managed to acquire the first XI captaincy again, which whilst always an honour to captain our great club was something of a surprise. That said, I am looking forward to getting stuck in and trying to knit our talented youngsters and our established senior players into a team that will be competitive in what will be the toughest Premier Division yet.

“There are 12 teams, 22 fixtures, another team, in Norwich, coming down from the East Anglian Premier League and it will really test our ability.”

Welcoming the new recruits to Lowestoft, Sims said: “We are delighted to welcome wicket-keeper batsman Ben Willgoss to the club from Kirkley and Lowestoft Railway. We also are pleased to have young all-rounder, Sam Clabburn, return to the club, also from Kirkley and Lowestoft Railway.

“Similarly, we have been given a boost that young all-rounder, Billy Brice will be coming home from University for the majority of weekends to enhance our side,” Sims added. We are looking forward to the arrival of Ruan Du Plessis, our overseas player/coach from Johannesburg.”

Du Plessis, a 22-year-old batting all-rounder, plays for Easterns in the South African provincial championship – the same club from which South African sensation Mpho Sekhoto had served Lowestoft so well for the past two seasons.

Sims said: “Ruan will be active in and around the club with the junior sides at U9, U11, U13, U15 and U17 as well as delivering Chance to Shine coaching in local schools. We are indebted once more to Gary Bennett Driving School for sponsoring a car for Ruan and we hope that he will be a success both on and off the field,” the skipper added.

“We also welcome Damian Abeyratna, who has moved to this country for work and is a very useful all-round cricketer. We are equally looking forward to seeing the progress of our promising youngsters and in particular, 16-year-olds Kieran Jones and Josh McAvoy who will be playing their second full seasons of first team cricket.

“Waiting in the wings to make an impact in the first XI are wicket-keeper Willy Cooke, bowler Michael Shea and all-rounder Romesh Tirimanna,” Sims said.

In the past fortnight, mixed Lowestoft Town sides have played in a couple of pre-season games away against Topcroft and against Diss last Saturday.

Sims said: “The results haven’t gone our way and to be honest in both games our opponents have played the conditions a lot better than we did, our fielding has been good, however our bowling lacked a bit of consistency and we need to rotate the strike more when batting.

“That said, we can take a few positives out of the games.”

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