Battle hots up at the top of the Notts Premier

While four clubs have a mathematical chance of winning the 2011 Nottinghamshire Premier Cricket League Trophy, it is more likely that either past winners Clifton or West Indian Cavaliers will be lifting the silverware come the 10th September.

This weekend’s biggest game sees these two giants go head-to-head at Birchover Park in a game that may well determine the eventual champions. Something has to give as both are in tremendous form; Clifton have won their last seven matches and the Cavs had a similar winning streak until the interruption of a winning draw last Saturday away at Papplewick.

Clifton won the game between these two earlier this season by six wickets when Usman Afzaal smashed 93 from 73 balls for the Cavaliers but solid batting from Clifton, including fifties for James Taylor and Scott McNeill, saw them home.

The Nottinghamshire Academy are in third and will want to keep up the pressure on the top two when they welcome Papplewick to Lady Bay.

The county side come fresh from good wins against Belvoir and Kimberley and can achieve a season-double over the visitors after their comprehensive 8-wicket victory at Papplewick Hall in June when Tom Rowe scored his maiden Premier League ton.

Papplewick are looking for their first win since defeating Kimberley three weeks ago and will hope that Husnain Riaz can continue his excellent form with the ball after his 5-53 against the Cavaliers last week.

Fourth-placed Welbeck travel to Caythorpe looking to halt their slide in form; having won the first seven matches of the season, they have won only one of their last nine and will be desperate to have a good end to the season so as to not waste their outstanding start.

The visitors have three batsmen who have passed the 400 mark, lead by Martin Dobson with 550. Their bowling attack has relied heavily on two outstanding performers, Luke Waterhouse with 41 wickets and Jonathan Ball with 38.

Caythorpe’s form has improved of late, winning their last three games against Cuckney, Wollaton and Kiveton.

Earlier this season, they were one of Welbeck early season victims when they were comprehensively beaten by 112 runs; they will have fonder memories of the corresponding match last term when runs for Guy Welton and wickets for James Hawley secured a six wicket win.

Wins are a must for the two sides anchored to the bottom-of-the-table sides if they are to pull survival out of the hat.

Belvoir, in 11th, travel to Wollaton desperate to keep their chance of top-flight cricket in 2012 alive;.

They will want to avoid going winless for the whole season and will rely on stalwarts Darren Bicknell (730 runs), Gurpej Landa (420 runs) and Lee Fazackerley (31 wickets).

Wollaton will be keen to put their disappointment of losing in the initial stages of the national T20 competition last weekend behind them and give skipper Ed Savill a winning streak at the end of his final season at the club before he moves to Scotland in September.

Bottom club Kiveton face an equally stark equation to stay up and this weekend host a Mansfield Hosiery Mills side that are not mathematically safe from the drop themselves.

The home side managed a winning draw when they travelled to The Fieldings earlier in the year when Richard Grainger top scored with 47. The leading scorer for the Millers in that game was Gareth Curtis, whose unbeaten 111, one of three tons this term for their leading run-maker in the 754 runs that he has scored.

Kiveton skipper Lee Brooks has led the attack and his side manfully with 28 wickets at an average of less than 26.

The final game of the day sees Kimberley travel to Cuckney looking to find some winning form.

They had a hot streak of wins during June and July but have lost their last four matches to Papplewick, Clifton, Cavaliers and the Academy.

They will also be keen to avoid recording two losses to Cuckney after their 3-wicket defeat earlier in the year when Tom Ullyott had a great day scoring 61 to add to a bowling return of 2-22. Nick Langford (65) and Richard Adams (4-41) were the standout performers that day for Kimberley.