STAFFS v SUFFOLK preview
Report from Allan Smith - 180619
After having mixed fortunes in the limited over competitions played to date in reaching the quarter-finals of the 50 over competition but being eliminated from the T20 at the group stages, Staffordshire’s cricketers now turn their attention to three day championship cricket with a trip to play Suffolk at Copdock starting this Sunday.
With changes ahead from 2020 for the championship which will see both the Eastern & Western Divisions being spilt into two leagues, there is even more pressure on teams to get off to a good start as it will require a top five finish to be in the top league next year.
There are a number of new faces for Staffs in their first championship game as Staffs make the long trip east with no fewer than four players making their championship debuts. Matthew Morris, James Cox and wicket-keeper Spencer Byatt have all appeared in the one day side earlier this year but this will be their first taste of three day cricket.
In addition, with Sam Kelsall still absent after fracturing a finger, there is a first call-up for Dan Mousley who doesn’t celebrate his 18th birthday until next month. The left-handed batsman, who bowls right-arm off-spin, has represented England under 19’s and has recently signed his first professional contract for Warwickshire.
The rest of the team skippered by Kadeer Ali has a more familiar look to it with Peter Wilshaw being joined by Tim Maxfield, Michael Hill, Dan Richardson, Brinder Phagura and left-arm spinner Paul Byrne who is making his first appearance of the season. Also in the travelling party is the experienced Greg Willott who will assist with coaching duties after being part of the Development squad coaching set-up this year.
Opponents Suffolk will provide a stiff test after finishing runners-up in the Eastern Division last season just two points behinds champions Lincolnshire and two ahead of Staffs who ended the campaign in third spot. In last year’s championship fixture between the two counties played at West Bromwich Dartmouth, Staffs ran out comfortable winners by 185 runs but a much tougher encounter is expected this time.
Staffs squad: Kadeer Ali (Captain, West Bromwich Dartmouth), Michael Morris (Westhoughton), Dan Mousley ((Berkswell), Peter Wilshaw (Meakins), Tim Maxfield (Brewood), Michael Hill (Meakins), Brinder Phagura (Moseley), Spencer Byatt (w/k, Little Stoke), Dan Richardson (Leek), Paul Byrne (Walsall), James Cox (Wollerton), Greg Willott (Bagnall Norton.
Sunday sees the start of a busy period for Staffordshire as, following the Suffolk game, they take on Cambridgeshire in the quarter-final of the 50 over Knock-Out at Knypersley on Sunday 30th June followed by another three day championship game against champions Lincolnshire starting the following Sunday 7th July at West Bromwich Dartmouth.