Staffordshire named a 12-man squad for the inaugural District Cricket Association National Twenty-20 Cup match against Northumberland.
The Staffs kicked off their Group 1 campaign on Sunday with a double header in a T20 format at Porthill Park under a new captain.
Zen Malik of Burslem has been named captain of Staffordshire – and leads a team looking to revive their fortunes in competition.
The NCCA-wide format hasn’t run since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but staff has been traditionally poor at T20 meetups.
However, there will be renewed optimism that Staffordshire could finally make an impact on Twenty20’s level after naming his team to raise the curtain.
Ricky Wessels, the former Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire cricketer who plays for Longton cricket, will make his county debut after agreeing to play the Staves whiteball this summer.
Warwickshire’s former snatcher Grant Thornton and worker Sam Wisniewski will also make their competitive debut in Staffordshire after their friendly double defeats at the hands of the North Staff and South Cheshire League XI in Longton last weekend.
Lewis Allison, Tom Hope, Jack Redman and Jordan Bullpett – all on Team Longton – were also named among the 12 in the Northumberland Games.
All-round Michael Hill and Rob Hemings, plus wicket-keeper Spencer Bate, who was unavailable last Sunday, are on the team.
Staffordshire takes the opportunity to have a look at their playing resources, as well as adhere to the minimum age rules applicable in NCCA cricket.
This means there is no room for seasoned veterans Paul Byrne, Tim Maxfield and Toby Bolcock.
The three-day-and-over-50 crew captain Peter Welshaw and Alex Mellor also did not participate.
However, Mellor will still be present on the back staff as part of his role as the county’s player and coach.
Northumberland includes former Durham wicket guard Stuart Poynter in their travel 12 weekend encounters.
Sunday matches start at 11am and 2:30pm. All spectators are welcome and refreshments will be provided.
Staffordshire (from): Zayn Malik (Burslem), Ricky Wessels (Longton), Michael Hill (Bridgenorth), Lewis Allison (Porthill Park), Tom Hope (Longton), Rob Hemmings (Audley), Spencer Bate (Nantwich), Jack Redman (Audley), Sam Wisniewski (Podsey Kongs), Rory Haydon (Lake), Grant Thornton (Birkswell), Jordan Bullpit (Walsall).