Preview of Saturday League Games

We move into week 3 of the season, remarkably without losing a fixture to the weather. Unfortunately, the second string lost out last week due to the opposition not having a cricket pitch (a basic requirement for playing cricket), but aside from that, we are maintaining a 100% playing record. This weekend’s weather looks favorable as well.

It’s a Bank Holiday, which, as we all know, brings availability issues across our squads. However, we still managed to conjure up 35 paid-up members for 33 spots, a sign of a healthy club. Long may those numbers continue as the season progresses.

South Winchester v First XI

The First XI travel to South Winchester (formerly IBM Hursley) slightly depleted but in a positive mindset after demonstrating first-class bouncebackability last week. The standout absentee is regular strike bowler Stef Kaltner, who is on family duties and will be missed. This means that Alex Brundle, Harry Tucknott and Mike Bryant must bowl well to provide a platform for Will Cheyney and Dan Jones. Josh Carpenter will provide back up.

Steve Bown and Nigel Bishop step up from the Two’s, and Michael Wood returns in one piece (we hope) from a stag weekend. Nick Green drops back down to the Two’s, while last week’s top scorer, Joe Marlow, is also away for the weekend. Otherwise, it’s a settled side with a strong enough looking batting line up to post a good score.

South Winchester have also won one and lost one, so it’s too early to judge the challenge they will pose. However, the lads can travel with confidence, knowing that if they play to their potential, they will be no one’s pushover. It promises to be an interesting game and may well indicate how the 2024 season will shape up.

Second XI v Basingstoke IV

Two’s skipper Ian Bennett will be content with his lineup despite numerous changes. Wise (ish) old heads George Rutt and Neil ‘Nellie’ Warner come in for their first games of the season, while Alex Holman and in-form bowler Bob Lethaby come up from from the Three’s. Stars of week one, Ollie Rabley and Sharan Hurgar, will be missed, but it is hoped that Kalum Sapumanage will help fill that void.

Zak Newton is finding good rhythm and length, and if George Lethaby and Noah Beckell can reduce the dross and join up their Jaffas more regularly, The Oaks will be well-set in the field. With the bat, The Oaks should be okay, but there is some risk. With Nellie and Rutty making their first outings, we could do with Chris ‘Mozzer’ Morris and George Lethaby putting on a few runs, and Ian Bennett, Nick Green, and Noah Beckell maintaining solid early-season form. Kalum Sapumanage provides good insurance at 7.

Word on the streets of Basingstoke is that they have strong depth this season, so The Oaks will likely face a stiff test of their resolve. It should be a good one, but The Oaks will need to be ready to go from the off.

Overton III v Oaks III

The Third XI travel to Overton, looking to build on last week’s win against Petersfield III’s. Dan is more than happy with his team, which features the Oakley old guard and just Will McCarthy as the youngster.

There are first league games of the season for Rav Kancharla, Alan Howarth, Avi Thakur, and Deano James, with Jeff Triner, Dave Bowers, Steve Savage, George Rowley, Dan Beckell, and Will McCarthy all retained. Bob Lethaby and Alex Holman have moved up to the 2s to bolster their bowling options, while Ben Robinson, Jack Brundle, and Joby Beatty are unavailable.

The bowling options come from Dave Bowers, Rav, Will, Mad Alan, and Avi Thakur, with George Rowley as emergency backup. Jeff Triner won’t bowl due to having knees like biscuits dunked in tea and will be saved for batting. That looks pretty decent from where I am sitting (in my garden office) and should be enough to compete.

The batting looks alright too, but it is hoped that the experienced top three of Beckell, Triner, and Tuckers can build a platform to avoid the chaos of week one where Steve Savage was left trying to piece together a competitive score. There is inexperience further down, but Dave Bowers and Avi Thakur have club 50s to their name, and the others are capable of adding a few runs.

Life appears to have been tough on Overton III’s, who suffered a bit of a walloping last week, but this is a good-natured local derby where they will be keen to improve, and fast. Dan knows that if The Oaks think they can just rock up and win, they will return to Oakley Park with metaphorical tails between their legs.

So, there we have it—the preview is complete. It looks like three good games from where I am still sitting (in my garden office), and a glance at the weather map indicates all three games will be played.

So, go out, enjoy it, and come back with barstool tales of heroics and ineptitude that only village cricket can offer.

On we travel…