IN what must be the most delayed start to a Premier League season ever, West Indian Cavaliers this weekend travel to Papplewick for what they hope will be their first league encounter of the season after their initial four games were lost to the weather.
They face a side that has only completed one game but that was a win last weekend against an under-performing Plumtree side in a 20-point to nil victory.
They have also had an abandoned match the previous week and these games have allowed skipper Matt Dowman, Warren Nel and Mark Nelson find some early season form with the bat.
The Cavaliers will be hoping that one of their professionals continues to be available but Bilal Shafayat’s match-by-match contract with Hampshire might mean he will miss a number of Cavaliers’ games, especially as he scored 93 against Derbyshire at the Rosebowl last week.
The side defeated by Papplewick last week, Plumtree, travel to Caythorpe for the first game of the season at that venue.
Plumtree competed well in their opening game against Kimberley a couple of weeks ago but performed poorly in their defeat last weekend.
There are good signs though with the side packed with youngsters all of whom have shown their potential with Sam Storey and Caleb Mierkalns impressing with the bat and Mohsin Qayyum and Matt Milnes looking sharp with the ball.
They will also be hopeful that Notts’ Ben Phillips will be able to make a first start of the season against the club he represented last term. The home side hit the ground running last week in an exciting 5 wicket win away at Kimberley when Darren Bicknell (75) and Josh Mierkalns (54) both looked in good nick.
But the star of that game was veteran seamer Tim Haines who grabbed his best Premier League bowling return of 5-42, ripping out the Kimberley middle order.
Kimberley will want to bounce back from that defeat but face run-away league leaders Cuckney at Langwith Lane.
The Cuckney bowling attack is looking awesome and they have dismissed all three of their opponents this year for less than 100 with four bowlers so far averaging less than double figures with the ball – Luke Wood, Richard Stroh, Will Butler and Ian Parkin.
Dan Birch has settled in well for Kimberley but with the exception of James Mann, no other batter has passed an aggregate of 100 runs for the season so far, and the middle order needs to contribute more if they are to maintain a realistic title challenge.
The Academy are second in the league behind Cuckney and this week they welcome Welbeck to Lady Bay looking to come out fighting after their defeat to Clifton last weekend.
Hassan Azad, Scott Elstone and Tom Rowe have all scored fifties this season but 151 all out against Clifton last week will have been a big wake up call for the youngsters.
Welbeck were the victims of the Cuckney bowling attack last time out and were dismissed for 79 when chasing 222 but they will have been heartened by the debut performance of Aussie Kyle Francis who impressed with 6-46 from 15 overs.
Mansfield Hosiery Mills welcome Worksop to The Fieldings hoping to find some consistency; rained off against the Cavs last week, they opened the season by being thumped by Cuckney and recovering to win at Wollaton the following week.
Tom New and Sudesh Fernando have both found batting form but others will need to step up if they are to maintain their current mid-table status.
Worksop had a baptism of fire against the Academy, going down to an eight wicket loss in their opening game at Lady Bay but recovering well to secure a tie at Wollaton last weekend.
They looked on track to overcome Wollaton’s 166 all out but lost their last 4 wickets for 12 runs to tie the game. Wayne Spooner found some form in that game with 62 from 100 balls and Conor Smith and Mark Smallwood each grabbed three wickets.
The final game sees Wollaton take on Clifton; the home side will have been buoyed by the tie at Worksop last week after early losses against the Academy and Mansfield with Dominic Reed securing a match-winning 6-23.
They also have batters in form with runs this year for skipper Tim Young, Alex Reed-Brewer and Ben Smith. Clifton seem to have recovered well from their opening match loss against to Cuckney.
Their win last week against the Academy saw runs Liam Andrews and Derbyshire player Daniel Footitt grabbed three late wickets in a shortened three over spell.