CRICKET: Notts Premier League sides look to shake off the wet weather

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After all but two of the games scheduled for last Saturday were lost to the rain, many Nottinghamshire Premier League sides are looking for their first run out this weekend but may be disappointed in what has been the wettest start to a season for some years.

Last year’s champions Clifton didn’t start their game at Papplewick last week and challenge another side looking to kick-off their season when they welcome Caythorpe to the Clifton Oval.

The home side have lost some key players in the close season with Dan Birch and Simon Roberts both departing for Kimberley and it will be interesting to see how the side fares without them.

Caythorpe have recruited well and Darren Bicknell and Gurpej Landa will be hoping to make an early impact for their new club.

The new Kimberley recruits will also be hoping to start their season when they challenge newly promoted Plumtree at home. Sam Ogrizovic’s outfit are looking on paper like strong contenders this season and they will be keen to give the returning South Notts team and tough baptism. Plumtree’s winter did not start well – they lost promotion-winning skipper Scott Bailey to a long-term hip injury with stalwart Nigel Finney stepping up.

Matt Wood will feature heavily as will all-rounder Ben Thompson alongside new recruits Caleb Mierkalns (Ellerslie) and Wasim Rana and Mohsin Qayyum (Hyson Green).

Two sides meeting at the Fieldings are both playing their second league games of the season; Mansfield Hosiery Mills and the Nottinghamshire Academy however had very differing starts to their seasons.

The Academy showed their growing maturity as a side with an intelligent 5 wicket win in a rain-interrupted game at Lady Bay against Wollaton with Tom Rowe and Scott Elstone hitting early season form.

The Millers will welcome back Sudesh Fernando who was unavailable last week when they suffered a major wake up call in their 116 run loss to Cuckney; one of the architects of that defeat was Kieron Garside who moved from them to Cuckney in the close season.

Welbeck and Papplewick will also be making their season debuts with the home captained by Martyn Dobson. They will be without last season’s overseas player Luke Waterhouse but have a very exciting prospect in their ranks with fifteen-year-old Tiger Dalby expected to play a significant part in their season.

Papplewick have recruited two key members of their squad from Lincolnshire cricket in the close season; Warren Nel joins from Sleaford and current Lincolnshire skipper and former Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire player Matt Dowman joins to lead the club. They will look to veteran seam Jim Rhodes to snag more wickets at the top of the order after his haul of 38 last year.

Wollaton put up a strong performance against the Academy last week but couldn’t quite reign in the county batters and this week, they will again face tough opposition when they host West Indian Cavaliers. Aussie Ben Smith and skipper Tim Young both scored half centuries in the Academy game but they will need to have further support from their bowling unit if they are to overcome another strong Cavaliers outfit.

There will be no Saqlain Mushtaq this year but the Cavs remain a favourite to contend for the title with Usman Afzaal and Alex Tudor returning along with Ricaldo Anderson who last appeared in the Premier League in 2009.

Worksop versus Cuckney game completes the roster; Cuckney will be in good spirits after their demolition of Mansfield Hosiery Mills last week. Richard Stroh had an excellent start to the season with both bat and ball and new boy Kieron Garside slotted in well. Worksop return to the Premier League for the first time since the League inaugural season in 1999 after topping the Bassetlaw Championship table last year. Skipper Luke Ambrose has added to the trophy winning side and will hope that they can put in a stronger season-long performance than many of the previously promoted clubs who have too often been relegated in their first season.