BURNHAM Sports will belatedly get their T.Rippon Mid-Essex League first division campaign under way with a home fixture against Great Totham on Saturday (start 1.30pm).

The club were scheduled to start their league season last weekend with an away fixture against Chignal, but they withdrew from the league during the winter.

Skipper James Hamilton has more or less a full squad of players to choose from.

Robin Whittaker, the outstanding player of last season, when taking 41 wickets, will again spearhead the bowling attack and will be joined by Andy Stephens, who returns to the fold after a long-term shoulder injury.

Stephens, a Sports regular for over 30 years who has taken more than 1,000 wickets for the club, has not bowled in a first team game for two years after being diagnosed with a frozen shoulder.

He spent last season playing as a batsman for the seconds.

However, the problem has eased enough for him to resume.

He bowled six overs in a friendly against Herongate last month and sent down a dozen more last Saturday in the seconds emphatic eight-wicket win over Southend Trojans in division nine.

He finished with figures of two for 26 and might have claimed more but for dropped catches.

“I’m delighted to be able to bowl again,” Stephens, a swing bowler who once took nine wickets in a league game, said. “For a time I doubted whether I’d ever be able to bowl again and, despite endless amounts of treatments, physio and exercises, it has only been in the past month that I’ve been able to bowl without any pain.

“My shoulder is probably about 80 per cent right and my throwing is limited, but it’s great to be again be able to do something I’ve always loved. I just hope I can still be of value to the first team.”