Tight at the top - NPL weekend preview

Martin Dobson of Welbeck CC
Martin Dobson of Welbeck CC

With only three games remaining, it is getting tight at both the top and bottom of the Notts Premier League table - and there are several fixtures this Saturday that could have a significant impact on the championship and the last relegation spot.

At the top, Cuckney welcome the West Indian Cavaliers for a match that could go a long way to deciding the title.

Cuckney must be favourites as wins over the Cavaliers and Rolls Royce in the final game of the season would almost guarantee them top spot.

When these two sides last met, Cuckney had the better of a draw after Tom Ullyott top-scored with 58 in a total of 233 all out and the Cavs were restricted to 205-7 in reply, with Akhil Patel hitting 71 at the top of the order.

Cavs run is the easier of the two with Kimberley at home and Clifton away to complete their season.

Rolls Royce remain in third, 30 points behind the leaders and they need to get back to winning ways if they are to remain in the title race.

They lost last weekend to the Cavaliers and this week they welcome Caythorpe to Watnall Road looking to avoid going down to a season double to their visitors.

That defeat in June saw Rolls bundled out for just 120 with Tim Haines and Jim Hindson each taking three wickets.

Caythorpe’s season has been one of great wins and disappointing losses and Darren Bicknell’s runs and experience will be missed next year – he has scored 589 league runs with six scores of 50 plus.

Papplewick’s loss last week at home to Farnsfield sealed their relegation and this weekend they travel to Mansfield Hosiery Mills hoping to secure a morale-boosting win now that the pressure is off.

Mark Nelson has had a relatively quiet season by his high standards with only three 50s in his 463 runs, and Jim Rhodes has carried the attack for most of the season with 28 wickets at less than 25.

The Millers have not won in their last three outings, having lost to the Cavs and Caythorpe and being saved by the rain against Farnsfield when seven down for 87 chasing 148.

Sudesh Fernando took 4-17 that day, adding to his season’s tally of 20 league victims, figures bettered only at the club by Matt Wright (38) and Kyle Garside (22).

With Papplewick’s relegation confirmed, two teams fighting to avoid joining them meet at Station Lane where Farnsfield welcome Welbeck.

The home side are still in 11th spot, despite their win at Papplewick last week, but they are just four points behind Plumtree in 10th and five points behind Welbeck.

The visitors had the best of a draw when these two met at Sookholme in June when Ollie Pringle struck 86, batting at eight for Welbeck, and Osama Alam took 4-59 that day for Farnsfield.

Plumtree sit between Farnsfield and Welbeck and they travel to the 2BM Ground to take on a Kimberley side that are not themselves mathematically safe from the drop as they sit in eight spot, 24 points ahead of the drop zone. Plumtree will take confidence from their performance last week when they posted 239- 5 against Cuckney, including 113 from South African David Bedingham.

They will also want to reprise their seven-wicket win over Kimberley at the PCG in June when Ed Hodgson took 4-18.

Paldip Sidhu remains the home side’s batting star this term with two tons in his 550 runs.

The final match sees the Nottinghamshire Academy travel to Clifton looking to get back into the winning habit.

They have not secured a victory since winning four on the trot in June and July, but two of their last four games have been curtailed by rain, including their match at Cuckney two weeks ago. That day they scored 323, with Sam Wood and Sam Kelsall both hitting big 50s.

Clifton’s game last weekend was also shortened by the weather with Jarrod Coombe and Scott McNeill putting on 104 for the first wicket, chasing 210 against Welbeck.