Former Warwickshire batsman James Ord and ex-Leicestershire wicketkeeper Joel Pope are among the newcomers in the Unicorns squad for this year’s Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.
Ord and Pope were both released at the end of last season but have secured their place in the Unicorns squad after a series of winter trials including sessions at Malvern College and Derby. Also included is Amar Rashid, older brother of Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid.
Two members of last season’s Unicorns squad, Wes Durston and Mike O’Shea, found their way back into first-class cricket after impressing for what is, in effect, the ECB Recreational XI.
Two more Unicorns players, Rory Burns (Surrey) and Ed Young (Gloucestershire) secured their first professional contracts.
Four more players who were released by counties at the end of last season, batsmen Chris Benham (Hampshire), Robin Lett (Somerset) and Michael Thornely (Sussex) and wicketkeeper Paul Dixey (Kent), will also be out to impress county scouts in the Unicorns 12-match CB40 programme.
In addition the Unicorns A team will compete in the Second XI Trophy one-day competition, taking over the fixtures traditionally filled by the Minor Counties XI and so offering further opportunities to impress counties.
Ten members of last season’s Unicorns squad – captain Keith Parsons, Jahid Ahmed, Chris Brown, Josh Knappett, Jonathan Miles, Sean Park, Chris Peploe, Glen Querl, Neil Saker and Jackson Thompson – have been retained.
The Unicorns, who beat Glamorgan, Sussex and Worcestershire in a successful debut campaign last year, will play Nottinghamshire, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Essex, Lancashire and last season’s beaten finalists Somerset in their group matches.
Unicorns 2011 squad: Jahid Ahmed, Chris Benham, Luke Blackaby, Chris Brown, James Campbell, Tom Craddock, Dan Davis, Paul Dixey, Ned Eckersley, Tom Friend, Alan Ison, Josh Knappett, Robin Lett, Jonathan Miles, James Ord, Sean Park, Keith Parsons, Chris Peploe, Joel Pope, Glen Querl, Luis Reece, Dominic Reed, Amar Rashid, Neil Saker, Chris Thompson, Jackson Thompson, Michael Thornely, Dan Wheeldon, Adam Wilson.