Notts Premier League Bank Holiday weekend cricket preview

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The 2013 Notts Premier league cricket season will be more a quarter complete after this weekend’s double-header of matches is complete and the league table is beginning to shake off its early-season look.

So how does each of the clubs look after the first four games of the campaign?

West Indian Cavaliers sit at the top of the pile after four straight wins, a lead of 14 points over Rolls Royce.

The Cavs’ batting has been their strong point with Akhil Patel and Bilal Shafayat starring with 161 and 132 runs to date with Bilal in particular scoring at am impressive rate of more than 111 runs per 100 balls.

A slight concern might be that their batting unit has not been fully tested with none of their batters below six getting to the crease yet.

With the ball, skipper Usman Afzaal is leading the way with 10 wickets to date including 4-53 in the win away at Welbeck.

This weekend, the Cavaliers are on the road with away trips to Plumtree on Saturday and Mansfield Hosiery Mills on Monday.

Rolls Royce are living up to their pre-season billing as one of the strongest sides to enter the league, and they will be keen to consolidate their position with an away trip to Welbeck on Saturday and a first visit by the Nottinghamshire Academy on Monday.

Both batting and bowling attacks have been firing well with former and current county players occupying the top three spots in the batting averages.

Tom Lungley (176 runs) and Dan Birch (142) have both batted aggressively but both they fall into the shade of Ben Phillips’ staggering innings of 107 from 48 balls against Clifton.

Adam Shepherd has been getting rave reviews for his speed and aggression with the ball, having taken a match-winning 4-32 in the 33 run victory last weekend at home to Papplewick.

Champions Cuckney sit in third just five points behind Rolls, but they need to start winning more matches, only one victory in four starts so far this year, if they are to retain their title.

Richard Stroh and Nick Langford are looking very strong with the bat, hitting five fifties and one hundred in eight innings between them; this included a major partnership of 163 for the 4th wicket in the winning draw at home to Kimberley.

The bowling plaudits are shared between Stroh and Lewis Bramley, recruited from Farnsfield over the winter.

This weekend they travel to Papplewick on Saturday and have a home tie against Welbeck on Monday.

With both their opponents in the bottom half of the table, they will see a great opportunity to close the gap on the top two.

Plumtree are in fourth and despite their zero-points loss away at Mansfield Hosiery Mills last week, they have had a good start to their season after recording wins against Papplewick and Welbeck and taking the best of the abandoned game against the Academy.

Their top three failed last weekend but had scored well before that game.

Ben Milnes and Sam Storey have formed a strong opening partnership but, with Joe Tetley unavailable on Saturday, they bring in Ben Storey who has a Premier League hundred in his record.

Bobby Gamble has made a welcome return from his stint with the Academy and has been a miserly influence with an economy rate of less than three runs per over.

This weekend, the South Nottinghamshire club welcome the Cavaliers on Saturday and travel to Caythorpe on Monday.

Caythorpe are the side in fifth some 11 points behind Plumtree; another side that has not recorded a victory since the opening day, and they should have added to their win tally last weekend when well placed against Welbeck.

A rapid-fire ton from James Hawley (107 from 77 balls) at the top of the order put them in a good position but when he was fourth out at 165, they subsided to 209 all out.

Josh Mierkalns has also been in form with 278 runs, equal with Richard Stroh. Veteran tweaker Jim Hindson has been in in the groove, taking 11 wickets, including 5-66 in the abandoned game away at Papplewick.

Before they host Plumtree on Monday, they travel away to Lady Bay to take on the Notts Academy.

Kimberley recorded their first win of the season last Saturday in a thrilling one run encounter with Clifton and they will take confidence from that performance as they travel to Farnsfield on Saturday before hosting Papplewick on Monday. The architect of that win was left-arm seamer Atif Sheikh, who grabbed figures 6-40. But after starting the final over, where Clifton needed just four runs with one wicket standing, with three wides he could so easily have been the villain of the piece.

Sheikh has taken 11 wickets and spinner Alex King has seven, but the remaining bowling attack needs to provide further wickets in support if Kimberley are to maintain their strides up the table.

The batting also needs to show some improvement with only one score of more than 50.

Mansfield Hosiery Mills are equal with Kimberley on 38 points, a position helped by their morale-boosting win at home to Plumtree last week.

Skipper Matt New had to sit out that match, taking up his place in the score box, after injuring his knee, but hope to be back leading the side this weekend. His brother Tom stood in well for him though last week, skippering the side and adding an unbeaten partnership of 109 with Sudesh Fernando to secure the game.

Matt Wright has settled in well after his close-season move from Kimberley with a season’s best of 5-74 against the Academy.

This weekend they travel to Clifton on Saturday and welcome the Cavaliers on Monday.

Welbeck Colliery are just three points further back in eighth and will hope that their outstanding comeback win against Caythorpe last week sets a positive tone after a disappointing start to their season which started with an abandoned game and two losses.

Martin Dobson returned to the side last week and starred with an impressive hundred at the top of the order but he will need further support from the batting unit if they are to put together a string of wins.

Olly Pringle has had a tough baptism to the Nottinghamshire Premier League, going wicketless in his first four outings but he found his feet last week, taking 5-56 to inspire his side to victory.

This weekend, the Colliers welcome Rolls Royce before travelling to Cuckney on Monday.

The Nottinghamshire Academy ended last season in second, but have found it tougher this seaso,n albeit that they have probably fallen victim to the weather more often than most with two games abandoned;.

The loss last weekend to the Cavaliers was rooted in a below-par first innings score, but Tom Rowe is in decent form with 160 runs.

Luke Wood has hit the ground running on his debut season for the Academy with 10 wickets at less than 15 runs apiece.

This weekend they host Caythorpe on Saturday and travel to Rolls Royce on Monday.

Farnsfield are one of six clubs within four points of each other and have already shown their mettle on their return to the league this season.

The Bassetlaw champions have performed creditably in three games against top-quality opponents – West Indian Cavaliers, Rolls Royce and Cuckney and secured a good win against Caythorpe.

Callum McKenzie is leading the batting unit with 107 runs but with only one half century scored, their batters must kick on to the big scores.

Jamie Wagstaff and skipper Paul Franks are heading up the bowlers with 16 wickets between them with Wagstaff taking 4-66 when they bowled out Rolls Royce.

This weekend they are at home to Kimberley and away at Clifton.

Clifton are in 11th and may be facing a fight for survival rather than competing for the title this year.

Their loss to Kimberley last week would have been dispiriting as they got themselves in a position to win.

Scott McNeill has passed 50 twice with the bat but no one else has reached a half-century.

They will also be glad that all-rounder Martin Weightman is fit to bowl again and boost an attack that is missing several of its stars from previous years. Saturday’s match sees them entertain Mansfield Hosiery Mills and they remain at home on Monday to Farnsfield.

Papplewick sit at the bottom of the table. Another side ruing a missed opportunity to record their first win of the season last week, they dismissed Rolls Royce last week for just 114 but were skittled themselves for only 81. Jim Rhodes remains the bright spark in their bowling attack, leading the rout of Rolls last week with figures of 6-37, but support remains illusive.

They hope to add further strength to their batting line up shortly.

Rhodes is also second in the batting stats with an average of 17 indicating the need to add strength with the bat.

Saturday sees Papplewick at home to champions Cuckney and on Monday they travel to Kimberley.