With high winds, rain and low temperatures the order of the week, it is hard to get enthused about this weekend’s prospects for cricket. However, at the time of writing no games have been cancelled and there is a glimmer of hope there may be some respite as we head into the weekend.
The First XI face their hardest task for a couple of seasons as they entertain red hot title favourites RAM. Both teams are unbeaten, so something has to give (unless it is cancelled of course) and it is widely recognised the boys will have to be firing on every cylinder to upset last year’s title winners (RAM failed to go up because of a crap ground or some shit like that).
The Oaks depth of the batting looks strong, with the ability to post 200+ once again looking like the recipe for success. Clive Welsman is away and will be missed but The Oaks are boosted by the return of Ronnie McEwan, who adds a bit of spice and fire in the field as well as accuracy with leather in hand. It’s good to have Ronnie back.
Michael Wood drops down to the Two’s in search of a bit of form and a change of luck, whilst Mike Tiley retains his place after his heroics v Hook a few weeks back. Ian Bennett also keeps his place after guiding us home in a tense game versus Solent a fortnight ago.
The crux of the matter is this. Bowl better and we have a decent chance. Bowl crap and we will lose. I’m backing the bowlers to hit the spot in an exciting game where our credentials will be tested to the maximum.
Team: Hennessey, Jones, Sumner, North, Tiley, Bayliss, Compton-Bearne, Bennett, A Brundle, R McEwan, Barnes
The Second XI, buoyed by a much needed victory on a sticky pitch last week, go to one of the title favourites, Kingsclere, on Saturday, aiming to erase a cataclysmic humbling last year. George’s team has something of a reunion look about it, with Woody, Bowny, Mozzer, Rutty and Nelly all selected for a nostalgic return as well as having nicknames ending with a Y, except Mozzer, who has to be different. I shall call him Mozzy on Saturday.
The returning Matt Vickery is a boost to the bowling options in game that sees no fewer than seven changes, with leggie, Rob Wood, also back in the side. Its a good looking line up this and the lads will need to be on form to beat a Kingsclere side that, judging by last year, bat without fear and can score big when they fancy having a bit of fun.
There is plenty of batting and bowling in this line up and if George could boast this team every week, The Oaks would be right up there at the end of the season. The problem is that they are a Second XI, so that isn’t going to happen.
If the weather backs off, I reckon this should be a decent game.
Team: Savage, Warner, M Wood, Morris, G Lethaby, Rutt, N Rabley, Bown, R Wood, O Rabley, Vickery
Without covers, The Third XI are going to be really lucky to get a game on at Newfound this weekend but as far as I am aware, it is still on. It will be a shame if they don’t get a game as Dan has a good little team out. With a little bit more solidity in the batting department, this team will start winning games soon.
As I always say, all we want to see is an upward curve with the Third XI and although positive results are what we play cricket for, Dan is really looking for development and signs of adapting to the adult game. So far, the young lads have done really well but what is really encouraging is that they know they can perform better.
I hope they get a game.
Team (no exact order) D Beckell, T McCewan, N Beckell, J Carpenter, P Carpenter, D James, Tall Jeff, Kancharla, Thakur, W Rabley, Fox
So, it may be that this preview was a waste of my time. However, if we fail to prepare, we must prepare to fail. With that in mind, I shall laugh in the face of weather apps and flood warnings and wish you all balmy weekend featuring the waft of coconut sun cream, cold drinks aplenty, and a hat-trick of memorable victories.
Rest well on Friday night my brave men, you must travel with the mighty Oaks at dawn (well, about 11:30 AM actually).