Bexhill Cricket Club coach Ian Cox is targeting a mid-table finish in the Sussex Premier League on the eve of the new campaign.
For the first time this century, Bexhill are spending a second successive season in the top flight after consolidating their promotion in 2013 with a seventh place finish last year.
The players are a year older, a year more experienced and a year more knowledgeable, and that makes a hell of a difference.Ian Cox
Cox said: “I would like to finish mid-table; we weren’t far off that last year. Another year, another bit of confidence, the boys think we should be here, we’re here on merit, but ultimately I think we’re good enough to finish mid-table and not have to worry about relegation.”
Bexhill’s side has a similar look to last year, although the ranks have been bolstered by the arrival of James Walker and Nick Peters. Johnathan Haffenden has taken over the captaincy.
“We’ll start the season far more confident than we did last season when we were just finding our feet,” continued Cox. “The players are a year older, a year more experienced and a year more knowledgeable, and that makes a hell of a difference.
“There’s a few areas that we’ve worked hard on over the winter; it’s just a question of putting it all together.”
Bexhill will begin their league campaign tomorrow (Saturday) at home to a Brighton & Hove side which came fifth last summer. Play is due to get underway from 12.30pm at The Polegrove.
Cox added: “We beat them at their place towards the end of last season and probably produced our best performance I would say.
“It’s a really important game for us. If we can get out the blocks and produce a good performance, it sets the tone. Brighton’s a game we’ve certainly looked at and felt ‘we could get points from that’.”
Callum Guest is available and Bexhill should be around full strength.
Dean Crawford has returned for a second season as the club’s overseas player and bowled well in the Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup win over Hellingly last weekend.
Cox said: “He looks a yard or so quicker than he did last year and I would be hopeful of him having a 20 or 30% better season purely because of his fitness (Crawford was recovering from injury last year).”
WEEKEND CRICKET FIXTURES - SATURDAY
Sussex Cricket League, 1st XI Premier Division (12.30): Bexhill v Brighton & Hove.
1st XI Division 2 (1): Hastings Priory v Lindfield; Crowhurst Park v Findon.
1st XI Division 4 (1): Rye v Keymer & Hassocks.
2nd XI Division 1 (1): Brighton & Hove v Bexhill; Horsham v Hastings Priory.
2nd XI Division 3 (East) (1): Burgess Hill v Crowhurst Park; Keymer & Hassocks v Rye.
East Sussex Cricket League (1.30), Division 1: Buxted Park v Battle.
Division 2: Iden v Fletching; Robertsbridge v Ditchling.
Division 3: Isfield v Little Common Ramblers.
Division 4: Bexhill III v Buxted Park II.
Division 5: Polegate & Stone Cross v Pett.
Division 6: Hadlow Down MW v Robertsbridge II; Ringmer II v Udimore; Wadhurst v Hastings Priory III.
Division 7: Battle II v Bexhill IV; Blackboys v Iden II.
Division 8: Burwash Weald v Seaford III; Little Common Ramblers II v Selmeston & Alciston.
Division 9: Crowhurst Park III v Sidley.
Division 10: Mayfield IV v Westfield; Robertsbridge III v Hailsham III.
Division 11: Pett II v Willingdon III; Rye III v Gildredge II.
Division 12: Hailsham IV v Crowhurst Park IV; Hastings Priory IV v Hellingly IV.
ECB National Club Championship, 2nd round (1): Hastings Priory v Blackheath.
Davidstow Village Cup, 1st round (1): Bells Yew Green v Crowhurst Park.