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Suffolk cricket coach Andy Northcote happy with progress this season ahead of Bedfordshire clash

Jaik Mickleburgh has been in great form for Suffolk. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Jaik Mickleburgh has been in great form for Suffolk. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Coach Andy Northcote believes Suffolk are building a foundation for years to come.

The county enter their final Unicorns Championship fixture in fourth place in the Eastern Division table – just five points behind second-placed Staffordshire – following a much-improved season.

Suffolk finished eighth last season after coming bottom of the ten-team table in 2015, and a win at Bedfordshire could see the county even end as runners-up.

Ahead of the start of the three-day fixture on Sunday at Flitwick CC, Northcote said: “Overall it’s been a wonderful summer where we have made more progression from last year.

“I have always said that we are in a building phase and nothing has changed as yet.

“However, this year we reached the quarter-finals of the Unicorns Trophy, which is testament to the above, and the fact that after five games we are 19 points clear of last year’s tally already shows that the squad are growing and improving as well as building a foundation for the years to come.

“We must be careful not to get too carried away as a couple of players have performed above expectation. Jaik Mickleburgh deserves a mention as he has fitted into the squad seamlessly and shone with the bat.”

Suffolk will make at least two changes from the side that drew with Cumberland at Ipswich School.

Sudbury’s Darren Batch, who impressed with the bat in his first Championship match for seven years, is not available, while fellow all-rounder Jack Beaumont is left out of the 13-man squad.

Darren Ironside is expected to replace Batch, while Alex Oxley is included as cover for Mildenhall skipper Ben Shepperson, who is nursing a bad back.

Suffolk are waiting to hear if ex-Essex bowler Matt Salisbury, who has not featured in the Championship at all for Suffolk this season, will be made available.

Salisbury was offered terms by Hampshire after impressing for Suffolk in their Unicorns Trophy one-day group games at the start of the summer.

Suffolk squad: Jaik Mickleburgh, Martyn Cull, Ben Shepperson, Michael Comber, Kyran Young, Tom Rash, Adam Mansfield (capt & wkt), Jake Wakelin, James Poulson, Darren Ironside, Alex Oxley, Hugo Douglas, Matt Salisbury.

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