Skipper Adam Dellar believes Haverhill have every chance of retaining their Division One status this season providing they get the basics right.
Haverhill start their Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship campaign at home to Frinton II on Saturday (1pm) after promotion from Division Two.
Much of the first team nucleus has remained, with only opening batsman Sam Powell (moved away) departed.
The squad has been strengthened by the acquisitions of wicketkeeper/batsman Dave Humphrey from Eaton Socon, opening batsman and seam bowler Chris Palmer from Sawston/Babraham, seam bowler Andrew Argent from Abington and the availability on Saturdays once more of all-rounder James Smith.
In addition, talented 16-year-old batsman and leg spinner Treyaksh Bali is due to arrive from India, where he has been playing inter state cricket for the Haryana U-16 (which he captained) and U-19 sides, and join the club for eight weeks from the end of May.
Dellar, who is also Haverhill’s head coach, knows it will be tough to compete in the top division but he feels it is achievable if the players execute their skills properly.
He said: “When we are batting first we’ve got to get to 200 if we can and defend that well and bowl in good areas and hit the stumps. That’s something we’ve not done enough in the past, hit the stumps.
“As soon as you bowl outside the stumps you take away the chance of getting a bowled or an lbw. We have got to put pressure on people as soon as we bowl. Bowl too many balls outside the off stump and it gives them time to get to know the wicket.”
The Manor Road pitches are generally slower and lower and require batsmen to be more patient in building their innings, and Dellar believes the players need to use that to their advantage.
“We’ve got to make Manor Road a fortress and make it really difficult for teams to score lots of runs. We’ve got to make ourselves hard to get out and not give our wickets away.”
Haverhill’s new signings will, believes the captain, make them a stronger side this season.
“I’ve been really pleased with the four signings we’ve made in the winter and I would say on paper we do look a stronger outfit.
“Dave (Humphrey) and Chris (Palmer) are more like batsmen that are suited to Haverhill’s wickets who will dig in and grind out runs early but they are able to move through the gears and score runs quicker and not just play at the same pace, which is important.”
“We still are inexperienced at this level but that will come and we just need work hard. We are probably one of the only teams that are starting the season without and overseas player, which is quite a big asset to have.”
One of Haverhill’s great assets as a team is the fact that, Humphrey aside, every player can bat and bowl.
Last season Dan Poole and Dan Pass each scored a maiden Two Counties century, while slow bowlers Callum Brunning and Ben Wilkins finished among the top ten leading wicket takers in Division Two, claiming 89 wickets between them.
Brunning will miss the first few matches of the season as he is at university in Sheffield, however Anthony Phillips has relinquished the wicketkeeping gloves after one season and will return to bowling off spin and batting in the middle order.
Of the season’s aims, Dellar said: “Our aim is to retain our status and to compete with every team and that may sound really simple but we need to compete and if we do I have no doubt we will stay in this division.
“We’ve got enough class to do that and if we finish mid-table we will be really chuffed and you never know, we might take a few scalps throughout the season and beat a few of the big teams.”
Haverhill hosted a triangular T20 tournament last Sunday in which they lost to Mildenhall and beat Coggeshall.
Haverhill XI to face Frinton II: Palmer, Dellar (c). Phillips, Humphrey, Poole, Ruthven, Smith, B Wilkins, Pass, Kettle, W Bailey.
•Haverhill IIs open their debut season in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division Three with a trip to Brockley (1pm).
HAVERHILL’S 2016 FIXTURES IN MARSHALL HATCHICK TWO COUNTIES CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION ONE
Matches start at 1pm, except in September, when they start at midday
Saturday, April 16
Frinton II (H)
Saturday, April 23
Saturday, April 30
Saturday, May 7
Saturday, May 14
Saturday, May 21
Saturday, May 28
Saturday, June 4
Saturday, June 11
Saturday, June 18
Saturday, June 25
Saturday, July 2
Frinton II (A)
Saturday, July 9
Saturday, July 16
Saturday, July 23
Saturday, July 30
Saturday, August 6
Saturday, August 13
Saturday, August 20
Saturday, August 27
Saturday, September 3
Saturday, September 10