Bucks to put youth first ahead of 2015 opener

Rob White has left Bucks after two years with the club
Rob White has left Bucks after two years with the club

Buckinghamshire County Cricket Club begin their 2015 season this Sunday when they host Staffordshire at High Wycombe in group four of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

So keen are Bucks to promote young talent within the county, the club have this year decided they will not be using a senior professional for their matches in the Unicorns County Championship.

Hamza Riazuddin

Hamza Riazuddin

This means Bucks will be without former Northamptonshire batsman Rob White, who played some record-breaking innings in his two seasons with the club.

Bucks ended last season’s championship by securing two wins with a side that contained 10 players under 24, including new captain Michael Payne, and they want to continue that trend this season.

“That’s the way we want to go,” said Bucks’ new director of cricket Jason Harrison, who stepped down as captain midway through last season due to injury. “We want to give the promising young players in the county a chance to perform at a higher level.”

In recent years, Bucks’ performances in the one-day Unicorns Trophy have been poor. In an attempt to improve their form in this tournament, the club have signed former Hampshire all-rounder Hamza Riazuddin, who plays his club cricket for Falkland in Berkshire and will only play one-day games for Bucks.

He made his debut in a warm-up friendly match against the Club Cricket Conference at Aston Rowant on Sunday, which saw Bucks record a 35-run victory.

Batting first, skipper Michael Payne led the way as his 90 and Matt Rance’s 65 saw Bucks post 262-8 from their 50 overs. In reply, Dan Hampton, Rance and Ziggy Arshad took two wickets apiece as the visitors were bowled out for 227.

One of the features for Bucks this season will be a return to playing at Wormsley near Stokenchurch. They will meet neighbours Oxfordshire there in a Unicorns Trophy match on Sunday, May 3.

In the Eastern Division of the Unicorns Championship, Bucks will face Hertfordshire in their opening game on June 7 at High Wycombe, followed by matches against Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northumberland, Lincolnshire and Staffordshire.

Bucks will also play in a T20 competition that starts against Berkshire on May 31.