For the first time in more than a decade, Market Rasen Town Cricket Club find themselves back in the Premier Division of the Lincolnshire County Cricket League.
And the club will be hoping to help the League celebrate its 50th year in style. Matt Rutherford is again at the helm of the 1st XI and the county’s leading left-arm spinner will be relishing the chance to test out a fresh set of bunnies during a summer that must surely be drier – and therefore more conducive to spin – than last year.
With Gary Bierlein, one of Rutherford’s few spin-bowling peers in the Lincolnshire League, twirling away from the other end, Rasen know that they have the potential to bamboozle their opponents with flight, guile and turn.
Will Bradford, Graeme Bell, James Fussey and Ryan Penniston will slug it out between themselves for the fast bowling berths, and Bell’s experience at this – and higher levels – with the new ball will be crucial for a seam attack with plenty of promise, but few outings at this level.
Bell, Rutherford and Bierlein will also be expected to contribute heavily with the bat. With Tom Keast moving up to the Yorkshire League and Ian Williams calling time on his 1st XI career, the batting lineup can expect to showcase the youthful talents of David Papworth and George Fussey this season.
Papworth made his Rasen debut in the second half of 2012, and having averaged more than 50, looks set to start 2013 with the 1sts.
Fussey’s potential has been identified for some time, but a season of graft with the 1sts last year looks sets to pay dividends in 2013.
The youth production line continues to churn out players capable of contributing, and even dominating, for the club at this level and much will be expected of the current crop of youngsters, especially George and James Fussey, Will Bradford, Luke Richards and David Papworth, all of whom are expected to get the opportunity to make 1st XI berths their own in 2013.
The 2nd XI, champions of Division Four in the Lincs League in 2012, make the step up to Division Three, with a new captain; Jon Stephenson, and an even stronger squad than in 2013.
Whilst the Fusseys and James Keast have been lost to the 1st XI and Cleethorpes respectively, Stephenson can expect a full season with the ball from 1st XI stalwarts Simon Bunn and Karl Bierlein, as well as existing mainstays Darren Salmon and Andy Richley. Young seam bowlers Charlie Scales, Liam Entwhistle and Jonny Purkiss are all looking to establish themselves at this level in 2013.
Stephenson himself will look to lead the way with the bat, with the fast-scoring opener keen to make his customary rapid start to the year and he’ll be looking to Ivan Nash and Tom Bradford to build on last season’s contributions, whilst expecting all-rounders Salmon and Richley to round out a top five that offers plenty of runs on paper.
With the developing batting talents of Chris Higgins, Rob Chamberlin and Luke Richards (when he’s not in the 1sts), the 2nds can look ahead to another exciting campaign and whilst their initial aim will be consolidation, the side obviously have the ability to clinch a second promotion in as many years.
With two Sunday sides, the usual West Wold outfit on a Tuesday night, the ladies team and a thriving junior setup, 2013 looks set to be another exciting year at Rase Park.
Anyone interested in playing cricket at the club should head down to a training session; Seniors – 6.30pm to 8pm on Wednesdays, Juniors and Ladies – 6pm to 8pm on Thursdays.
The 1st XI open the 2013 season at home to Cherry Willingham on Saturday, starting at 12.30pm. The 2nd XI start their campaign on Sunday at Caistor Town 3rd XI, starting at 1pm.