All-change at Horsham with Thornely in charge and top-three target

Sussex Academy starlet Nick Oxley is one of four new additions at Horsham
Sussex Academy starlet Nick Oxley is one of four new additions at Horsham

It’s all change at Horsham as the Lions set their sights on a top-three finish in the Premier Division.

Former Sussex and Leicestershire batsman Michael Thornely has taken over from former skipper James Johnson and they have made a plethora of new signings.

Young Sussex bowler Nick Oxley has signed from Worthing along with Matt Green, and wicketkeeper Ryan Maskell has also made the switch from Bognor.

All-rounder Mika Ekstrom is the club’s new overseas player having arrived from Cape Town.

Opening batsman Joe Ludlow is the main departure, opting to join Cuckfield, who are tipped to press for the league title.

Horsham must, as always, wait and see on the availability of their Sussex players, but they are not hopeful of seeing much of Jofra Archer, George Garton or even Will Beer, the latter when the limited-over season gets under way.

But cricket manager Ed Clark is hoping in another year of change, they can be in the mix at the top of what he expects will be a competitive top five.

He said: “The side will probably look very different from last year in terms of faces. Michael Thornely remains at the club and takes over from James as captain, who we will see a limited amount of due to work commitments in Newmarket.

“Retaining our T20 title is an aim this season as historically we have always been very strong in that competition.

“We like to be competitive in the league and aim for the top three or four. I think the league looks really strong overall especially until the first couple of weeks in and we can see what sides are doing. Cuckfield look a really strong prospect with their Kiwi overseas, Roffey will be as competitive as ever and Preston Nomads and East Grinstead as well.

“The top half will be very strong which is great as no-one will run away with it, but that also means there are not as many easy weeks any more. It’s going to be very competitive, but if we can get in the top three or higher, we’ll be pleased.”

On players, Clark added: “Joe is probably going to be a big miss and it’s disappointing we only had him for one year. He cited he wanted to go and play the game with guys he grew up with. It’s disappointing to lose him to someone that will be challenging, but he did it the right way and was very up front.

“Ryan has come in and looks an exciting prospect, along with Matt Green and Nick Oxley from Worthing, who is playing in the Sussex Academy and is really exciting, so it’s great to have those two.

“Mika comes in as our overseas and has hit the ground running. He’s good with bat and ball and will probably open the bowling. It’s key to have a high-quality seam bowler and was always our objective to secure someone in that capacity.”

Horsham’s season was meant to get under way on Sunday with a fixture against Ashstead in the National Village Cup, but their opponents were unable to raise a side. They now take on Brighton in the Gray-Nicolls T20 on Saturday.