Big derby opener for Cuckney and Welbeck as new cricket season begins

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Treble-winning Cuckney begin their defence of the Nottinghamshire Premier League title on Saturday with a mouthwatering local derby at newly-promoted neighbours Welbeck.

Last year Cuckney also won the prestigious ECB National Clubs Championship trophy and Derbyshire County League Premier Cup to make it three titles won in as many weekends.

“It would be a bit of a tall order to replicate what we did last year,” said vice captain Tom Ullyott.

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“But you have to get together and go again, and we will be trying to do it all again if we can.

Cuckney celebrate their national win at Lord's last year. Photo by Richard Parkes.Cuckney celebrate their national win at Lord's last year. Photo by Richard Parkes.
Cuckney celebrate their national win at Lord's last year. Photo by Richard Parkes.

“It would be very nice if we could, but we understand a lot of things have got to go your way to have a season like that and win those three trophies. It would take a mighty feat and a bit of luck.

“The weather has not helped recently with teams struggling to get some pre-season games in, though we did manage a couple last weekend.

“We are looking forward to it. I think other teams will come at us a bit harder as they want to beat us – we have a target on our backs after last year.”

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Joel Gunn is a new face this summer, signing from the Yorkshire League.

“He's an opening bowler,” said Ullyott.

“He is a very fit young lad with a lot of talent and he wants to improve his batting, bowling and fielding. He joined us early in the winter so he has part of all the winter training with us and he is a competitor.

“He's been a great addition so far off the pitch as he will hopefully be on the pitch taking us wickets. He is one for now and for the future.

“We have also re-signed James Hawley from Ratcliffe who was here from 2013 to 2021. We are glad to have him back.

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“We have opted not to have an overseas player this year as we have kept almost all the players who did so well last year. We don't feel the need for one.”

Cuckney are looking forward to taking on old rivals Welbeck in the opener.

“It's good to have derbies and they have not been in the Premier League for a few years now,” said Ullyott.

“We are only a mile and a half apart and it's a nice ground. I would imagine out of all the grounds in the league we would be one who will play on Saturday as they have great facilities. Our ground is soaking.

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“We are looking forward to renewing rivalries and hopefully we can start our defence with a win.”

Bassetlaw League champions Welbeck are back in the top flight in their Centenary year.

Their overseas professional will be Ruan Terblanche, an explosive top order batter who plays for SWD in South Africa.

In 2023, Ruan played for Torquay scoring over 1,200 runs with a top score of 183 not out.

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Alongside his playing commitments, Ruan will be a key addition to their coaching team.

They have also signed Oliver Dyson from Collingham, where last year he amassed 718 runs at an average over 40, including two centuries.

Club captain Richard Stroh said: “We have fantastic facilities at Welbeck and we just needed to bring Premier One cricket – the highest level in the county – back after four years away.

“That has now been achieved and we are raring to go and looking forward to it.

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“Our target from day one will be to win it. We were one of the first teams to get promoted and then win it in our first year.

“We have recruited well with some decent signings over the winter and we have kept every single person that got us promoted last year. So it's pretty positive, though obviously we know it won't be easy as there are some very good sides. But we are setting our standards high and we intend to cause some upsets.”

On Saturday's opener, he added: “I used to play for Cuckney a few years ago so I know exactly what they are made of.

“They had a fantastic year last year, winning three big trophies, especially the national knockout and the league for the second or third time.

“But the best time to play a top side is at the beginning of the season.”

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