CRICKET: Cuckney look to keep up impressive start to Notts Premier League campaign

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At the start of the season, many would have anticipated the first clash between Clifton and the Notts Academy to be a match to decide who goes top.

But the weather and a very uncharacteristic batting collapse by the champions in their only game thus far have meant that the Academy are currently 32 points and 10 places ahead the 2011 title winners.

Clifton’s thumping by Cuckney last week will no doubt have blown away any winter cobwebs and they will also be hopeful that new signing Luke Fletcher brings more potency with the ball.

The Academy are flying with two wins from two, last week imposing a heavy defeat on new boys Worksop with George Bacon and Bobby Gamble each taking three wickets.

Clifton swept the academy aside in the corresponding game last year in their final run-in to the title and the Academy will see this as an excellent chance to reverse that result.

The joint-top side after three games are Cuckney and this weekend they travel to Welbeck, one of the three sides in the league looking to play their first game of the season at the fourth attempt.

Like the Academy, Cuckney have hit the ground running after two big wins against Mansfield Hosiery Mills and Clifton. Their bowling attack looks to be in deadly form having dismissed their opponents so far this year for 47 and 90; Luke Wood (8 wickets at 3.13 runs each) and Richard Stroh (7 at 4.57) have had dream starts with the ball and will hope to catch the Welbeck batting unit on the hop.

Robert French and Guy Darwin both got fifties for Welbeck in the draw between these two sides last year.

Kimberley lie in third spot and have a home tie against another side waiting to get onto the field for the first time when they welcome Caythorpe to the Private Field.

The home team have drawn against Plumtree and were on target for a close finish against Papplewick last week when they ran out of time.

Their two key acquisitions of the winter have both found some form with runs for Dan Birch against Plumtree and former Clifton star Simon Roberts returning to competitive action last week after his serious rugby injury with a couple of wickets in the Papplewick game. Caythorpe will just be praying for dry weather so that their new look side can get onto the paddock.

West Indian Cavaliers will also be looking for their first action of the season when they welcome Mansfield Hosiery Mills to Birchover Park.

The Cavs have Alex Tudor and Usman Afzaal in their line up and welcome back old boy and former Notts start Bilal Shafayat. The Millers have had a mixed start to the campaign, being rolled by high-flying Cuckney in their first game but bouncing back to secure a 55 run victory at Wollaton.

The New brothers featured strongly in that game with Tom hitting 94 from 125 balls and Matt grabbing bowling figures of 6 for 43.

Wollaton this week travel north to Worksop, hoping to find some form after losing their opening games against the Academy and Hosiery Mills and will find a team still smarting from their opening Premier League thumping at the hands of the Academy.

Wollaton have some players with some form so far this year with Tim Young, Ben Smith and Alex Reed-Brower all notching up fifties; their bowling needs more of a run out with only nine wickets between them in the opening two games. Worksop had a baptism of fire against the Academy with the game being completed less than 40 overs.

The final match sees the other promoted side Plumtree take on Papplewick at the Plumtree Cricket Ground. The home side had the opportunity to beat Kimberley in their opening game but a couple of missed chances in the field and a slight lack of confidence in the chase saw them settle for a draw. Sam Storey and Caleb Mierkalns both found form with the bat and Mohsin Qayyum and Matt Milnes looked hostile with the ball.

Papplewick saw their game against Kimberley abandoned without the second innings being completed but they had enough time for new boys Warren Nel and Matt Dowman to make an impact with Bradley Matthews also looking in a good bowling groove.