Seven players to make Championship debuts for Staffordshire

Zen Malik made 81 on the opening day against Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds.

Staffordshire will have seven county Championship debutants in their line-up for this weekend’s NCCA Division One East game against Suffolk.

Staffs head to Bury St Edmunds on Sunday for the first of four three-day matches – and will field one of the youngest teams in recent memory.

Captain James Kettleborough and left-arm spinner Tom Brett will make their Championship bows for Staffs. However, the pair boast a wealth of experience on the National Counties Cricket Association circuit.

Also included in the team are five players who have never played a red-ball game at this level. They are wicketkeeper Callum Hawkins, seamers Sam Atkinson, Rory Haydon and Liam Hurt, plus all-rounder Nils Priestley.

There is also a recall to the three-day ranks for Ashcombe Park slow left-armer Anis Raza. He last featured for Staffordshire in the long format in 2018.

‘Sweeping changes’

Just three players are involved in the squad who featured in the last Championship match of the 2022 season – Zen Malik, Michael Hill and Dan Richardson.

That provides a indication of Staffordshire’s new era with Kettleborough and head coach Andy Carr at the helm.

Staffordshire have had ups and downs so far this summer. They won the Twenty20 Cup, but then exited the 50-over competition at the group stage.

They will be keen to show their qualities in the red-ball format, though, after last winning the division back in 2019.

Suffolk won their last two Championship matches of last summer to preserve their place in the top flight.

And they have enjoyed a decent season so far. They beat Northumberland last weekend to reach the semi-finals of the Knockout Trophy.

Staffordshire (from): James Kettleborough (cpt, Checkley), Sam Atkinson (Moddershall & Oulton), Tom Brett (Finedon Dolben), Callum Hawkins (Moddershall & Oulton), Rory Haydon (Kenilworth Wardens), Michael Hill (Meakins), Liam Hurt (Flixton), Zen Malik (Leek), Matthew Morris (Westhoughton), Nils Priestley (Swarkestone), Anis Raza (Ashcombe Park), Dan Richardson (Moddershall & Oulton).

Picture: Zen Malik is in the Staffordshire side for this weekend’s trip to Suffolk.