Top v bottom in Notts Premier League cricket

IT’S top versus bottom this weekend in the Nottinghamshire Premier Cricket League as Worksop travel to Cuckney hoping to turn around their form and fight to retain their status in the top-flight

It has been a very tough baptism for the North Nottinghamshire club with six losses, one losing draw and a tie to their name so far.

When you consider that Belvoir were relegated last term with 152 points and Worksop’s current tally of 48 with nine games remaining, it looks a tall order for them to avoid the drop.

Kelbert Williams has been their star performer with 12 wickets and 181 runs but it one man cannot save the team.

Cuckney are searching for their third successive win after victories on the road against Wollaton and Mansfield Hosiery Mills in the last two weekends.

Will Root and Will Butler are finding batting form with winning knocks in each of those games.

Wollaton are the side keeping Worksop company in the relegation zone but with 32 more points, and they too have a tough away trip as they travel to Birchover Park to take on West Indian Cavaliers.

The home side will be desperate to bounce back after their humbling loss at Kimberley last week when they were dismissed for just 63 in 27 overs, a result that took away the only remaining unbeaten record in the league.

The Cavs batting has been more fragile than in recent years, demonstrated by the fact that Bilal Shafayat is their second-highest run scorer despite only playing twice.

Wollaton’s season has seen a number of near-miss losses and they will know that they will need to add to their single win if they are remain in the roster in 2013.

They are bidding to avoid their third straight defeat and will need more runs from in-form skipper Tim Young and the batting unit to support their bowlers.

The Nottinghamshire Academy welcome Mansfield Hosiery Mills to Lady Bay and will be looking to strengthen their position; they currently lie in second, 14 points behind Cuckney but with a game in hand.

In their last game, they defeated Wollaton by four wickets but a recurring theme seems to be the lack of a ruthless streak.

Wollaton recovered from 81 for 6 to finish with 180 and Caythorpe were 66 for 6 before closing on 185 for 8.

Scott Elstone and Hassan Azad have accumulated the most runs for the County side but Azad will be looking to improve on recent low scores.

The Millers have recovered quickly after an early season loss to Cuckney but have stumbled of late and have had two defeats and a losing draw in their last three games; their last win was at the beginning of June when they overcame Welbeck with Tom New scoring 114.

Kimberley travel to Plumtree looking to go one better than the winning draw they achieved in the opposing fixture earlier in the season. The result they achieved that day was built on an innings of 96 from Dan Birch.

Rather surprisingly for such a proven talent, that has been his sole half-century of the campaign and that will surely change soon.

Plumtree have seemingly had a dip in confidence and form after wins against Caythorpe, Cuckney and Wollaton, but they have been without key players in the last few weeks with opening bowler Mohsin Qayyum hoping to be back after injury this weekend and all-rounder Ben Thompson will add further to the batting and bowling resources when he returns.

Caythorpe are arguably the form side in the league having won three and drawn one since losing to West Indian Cavaliers in early June and this week they welcome Clifton.

Josh Mierkalns and Darren Bicknell have both scored half centuries in the last two games, the wins against Mansfield and Worksop.

Tim Haines and Usman Muzaffar are the in-form bowlers with 16 and 13 wickets respectively with Haines adding further value by going at less than 2.25 runs per over, the meanest figures in the league.

Clifton’s season has been characterised by an inconsistent streak not seen in their three consecutive championship-winning seasons, but after a winning draw against Plumtree and last weekend’s win against Papplewick they will hope that the elusive consistency is returning.

Martin Weightman is having a good all-round season with 11 wickets in addition to his 305 runs and Adam Shepherd is fourth in the league stats with 21 wickets at just over 17 each.

The final game of the weekend pits two sides together who are only four points apart in ninth and 10th spots as Papplewick host Welbeck.

The visitors are stringing together some decent form with their three wins this season coming in the last four games; Martyn Dobson had a season-defining performance when he took seven wickets against Plumtree and followed that up with 97.

He will surely get that first 100 of the season soon after innings of 96 and 89 not out in the wins against Clifton and Worksop.

He sits second in the league batting averages and Papplewick’s Warren Nel is in third with 374 runs at 41.56 with a season’s best of 85 in the loss to the Academy in early June.