CRICKET: Cuckney hope to return to top of Notts Premier League table

This weekend marks the halfway point of a staccato season where few sides have been able to build a solid momentum due to the frequency of cancelled and abandoned matches.

Uniquely in the history of the league, only five matches are scheduled this weekend; the planned match between the Nottinghamshire Academy and West Indian Cavaliers will take place on Sunday 15th July to allow the Academy to provide net bowlers ahead of England’s Twenty20 clash with the West Indies at Trent Bridge on Sunday.

The remaining five matches have a number of interesting contests with one such taking place at the Clifton Oval as the reigning champions welcome Plumtree for the first time since 2009. Clifton have had a mixed season so far with three wins from seven matches whereas Plumtree have the same number of wins in one fewer contest.

The home side’s batting unit has not been nearly as dominant as in previous years despite Scott McNeill’s 221 runs and he and Tom Lungley have both got two half centuries.

Plumtree’s strength so far this campaign has been their bowling with Wasim Rana (13 wickets at 13.3) and Mohsin Qayyum (12 at 19.4) leading the way and they also hope to give a debut to Nottinghamshire’s Neil Edwards.

Cuckney will try and leapfrog the Academy at the top of the table when they travel to Wollaton; after a flying start to the season, they have only won one in the last three.

Their bowling attack remains in potent form with Luke Wood, Richard Stroh, Will Butler and Ian Parkin all in double digits for wickets at less than 15 runs each. Wollaton have turned in a number of good performances but have not been able to find a consistent winning formula.

They will also be conscious of the 4-wicket loss they suffered in this game last season despite 68 from Tim Young who has also been in solid form this season.

Bottom club Worksop play host to Papplewick with the home side still looking for their first win in the Premier League this season; they did get close when they tied with Wollaton in May but they will need to start registering some positive performances if they are to climb away from the relegation zone in the second half of the season.

Wayne Spooner has been their standout performer with bat and ball this season but his half-century in the Wollaton game is one of only two that the team has delivered so far and they will need to build bigger innings to avoid the drop. Warren Nel is having an outstanding first campaign with Papplewick with his 354 league runs placing him second in the league stats only behind Mansfield’s Tom New’s 561.

Caythorpe travel this weekend to The Fieldings to challenge New’s Hosiery Mills and with only ten points difference between them, a win would be highly significant for either side.

New might be running away with the batting plaudits but they are no one man team; Sudesh Fernando is averaging more than 37 with the bat and Matt New (13 wickets at 17) and Kyle Garside (11 at 24) are performing well with the ball. Caythorpe are one of the least predictable sides in the league this year; wins against Kimberley and Cuckney have shown their potential but losses against Plumtree and Cavaliers have also demonstrated weaknesses that they need to overcome if they are target a top three spot.

Darren Bicknell, Josh Mierkalns and Steve Allcoat have all found form but the batting unit needs to deliver more competitive totals.

The final game of the day takes place at the John Fretwell Complex at Sookholme where Welbeck welcome Kimberley.

After a tough start to the season, the home side are finding their feet following four straight losses with wins in each of their last two games against Worksop and Clifton. Martyn Dobson got significant scores in both the victories and in Kyle Francis they have the league’s leading bowler, 24 wickets at 12.7.

Jonathan Ball has also found some form, most especially in taking 4-58 against Mansfield Hosiery Mills.

Kimberley also seem to be shrugging off some early season poor form with recent positive results against Wollaton and Mansfield Hosiery Mills. Akhil Patel, Dan Birch and Paul Riley have all passed 200 runs in what has so far been a bowler-friendly season and Matt Wright has enjoyed the conditions, grabbing 15 wickets including 4-43 in the win against Wollaton.