Wind, rain, fallen trees and a few hopeful glimmers of warm sunshine. All standard practice as August battles between summer and the onset of Autumn. A pain in the arse for cricketers who waste the hours away checking apps. Just as hopes rise, one rogue shower can be like a dagger through the heart.
So, we enter the final month of the season not knowing how many games we will get on Saturday. It could be all three, it could be none at all. Still, if you fail to prepare, you must prepare to fail. As a consequence, I will write this thrilling preview full of misguided presumption that everything is going to be okay.
With wounds licked, The First XI now find themselves drinking in the last chance saloon with regards to their promotion hopes. The defeat at Liss last week was damaging but softened by RAM’s heavy defeat by Sparsholt. The downside is that Sparsholt are hot on our coat tails and are in rampant form.
Despite the weather, we are in holiday season, so Dan has to make changes again, but his side does look useful. Hartley Wintney are the visitors, with an up and down season behind them. However, the same could be said of Liss. Any thoughts of a standard victory are misguided and should be dealt with by receiving ‘six of the best’ across the bottom from Elliot’s bat.
The Oaks make just two changes. Michael Wood once again believes it is going to be West Ham’s year, so he off to London, with James Adams replacing him. Dan Jones takes a break from karting and vomiting, replacing Rob Wood, who is back in the second XI. Alex Brundle gets a deserved promotion to number 3, to see if he is the man for the role.
Otherwise it’s as you were, with the Oaks needing to bowl better and get runs on the board. Elliot and Dan apart, too many players are getting great starts and not pushing on. We have a team of poor man’s James Vince’s and we need to improve if we are to go up. We are good enough.
Team: Hennessey, Sumner, Brundle, Bayliss, Adams, Jones, Tiley, Montgomery, Compton-Bearne, Bennett, Cheyney.
The second XI had a good win last week against, it has to be said, a weakened Overton second string but it was a confidence booster all the same. The Oaks sit smack bang in the middle of the table and out of any promotion or relegation battles but a good end to the season is still important.
Out goes the quite brilliant Deano James, who like Woody, thinks it is West Ham’s year, whilst Paddy Saines is away and James Adams is promoted. Fawad Amir is back from a break, Rob Wood steps back down from the first XI, and Ollie ‘one in the mouth’ Rabley, makes a brave return from injury, holiday, and coming to terms with the fact he now has an adult son.
Otherwise, its as you are with Bob Lethaby rewarded for his excellent recent batting performances by clinging on to the coveted number 10 slot. A decent looking team this, but ITW always provide a good game, so weather permitting, it should be a decent match up.
Team: Savage, Warner, O Rabley, J Brundle, G Lethaby, Green, Carpenter, Wood, Amir, B Lethaby, B King.
The rampant third XI go into tomorrow’s game on the back of a two-game winning streak. Can they make it three against lowly Titchborne Park?
Quite possibly, but only if they can somehow get the game on. There are no covers at Newfound so Dan can only hope that the strong winds can blow dry the wet strip in any drier interludes.
Dan and Dave have a decent team out again and the core of them playing nearly every week is testimony to him making the third XI an enjoyable experience (except when he is given out). There is no doubt that Will Rabley, Noah Beckell and Taner McEwan have all benefitted from the experience.
I hope the thirds can get this game on because if they can continue their move up the table, it will make for a great season. We were all nervous about our first ever third XI working well enough to be viable. Any concerns have been well and truly quashed; it has been a great success.
Team: Tall Jeff, D Beckell, P Carpenter, N Beckell, W Rabley, Kancharla, Thakur, Bowers, McEwan, Turner, De Vos.
So everyone, look to the skies and seek some blue. The downpours are supposed to die down so hopefully the Oaks handbrake can be released once again and the wheels can embed themselves in the mud in true Paul Sumner 2018 style. Vroom, vroom, splodge, splodge, on we must travel.
*Please remember that if you are playing at Oakley Park, Thursday is groundwork night. The last two weeks George and Dan have been at the ground on their own. Last night I turned up by chance and Dan and I just got the covers on before the rain came in hard. The captains do need help, so please remember to do your bit on Thursday’s. Thank you!