Notts Prem League: Cuckney open up title defence against Kimberley

Nottingham Premiership Cricket - Cuckney v Welbeck (fielding). 

James Hawley batting under the watchful eye of wicket keeper David Hunt

Picture: Sarah Washbourn

Nottingham Premiership Cricket - Cuckney v Welbeck (fielding). James Hawley batting under the watchful eye of wicket keeper David Hunt Picture: Sarah Washbourn

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The Nottinghamshire Premier League starts anew this Saturday with an intriguing set of opening fixtures.

At Langwith Road defending champions Cuckney begin their season with a visit from 2015 winners Kimberley Institute. Nick Langford will be leading the Bears this year and whilst he will be without the services of Luke Thomas and Aussie Trent Lawford amongst others, Sri Lankan all-rounder Arosh Janoda has arrived to bolster the ranks and Jake Tong has joined from Ordsall Bridon.

Kimberley had a relatively quiet close season with few changes made to Alex King’s side; twice NPL all-rounder of the year Martin Weightman has joined from Clifton Village to offer a new ball threat and to further strengthen Kimberley’s middle-order and Cav King has moved from Caythorpe to replace the departed Danny Ross behind the stumps.

Rain intervened in this fixture last year after Kimberley had posted 251-5.

Bassetlaw winners Farnsfield begin life back in the top division with the visit of Mansfield Hosiery Mills to Station Lane. Captain Callum McKenzie will be looking to get the best out of professionals Brett Hutton (when available) and Ben Kitt if they are to maintain their Premier League status.

The Millers will be looking to Tom New to help them consolidate their top half finish last year; Australian Dylan Barmby has joined as their overseas player for the season.

The last time these two sides met in the NPL was in 2013 when the Millers won by eight wickets.

Newly promoted Attenborough have something of a baptism of fire as they welcome nine time NPL winners West Indian Cavaliers to The Strand.

Captain Ryan Swiers has new signings to call upon in the form of wicket-keeper Steve Allcoat and batsman Tom Moores, with South African Byron Haycock returning after a successful 2016 season with the Squirrels.

The Cavaliers, led once again by Bilal Shafayat, have added former Northants and Essex fast bowler Maurice Chambers to their ranks along with batsman Hassan Azad from Plumtree and leg-spinner Rehan Hassan who has previously played in the Essex Premier League.

The last time these two sides met in 2015 the weather saved the home side from a heavy defeat.

The first test for Caythorpe’s new skipper Andy Staszkiewicz will be the visit of Notts Academy.

The home side are much changed with Mat Dowman, Steve Allcoat, Josh Mierkalns and brother Caleb all having moved on; the experience of Martyn Dobson will be vital at the top of the order and new signing Anuj Dal will be eager to impress against his old side with both bat and ball.

The Academy side begin the season knowing that it will be their last in the League as they are to withdraw from it come September. The experienced Ant Botha (Derbyshire & Warwickshire) will lead them this year and he will be hoping to bring out the best from a group of talented youngsters.

This fixture last season resulted in a thirty-one run win for Caythorpe.

Two of last season’s strugglers meet in the penultimate fixture of the day as Radcliffe-on-Trent host Hucknall. Dave Lucas continues as Radcliffe’s captain and he’ll be hoping that Josh Mierkalns can repeat the form he showed for them back in 2014 with the bat and the mercurial Caleb Mierkalns can also produce some match-winning cameos.

Robin Maxwell’s Hucknall side will be hoping to build on their first season in the top flight after escaping the relegation places on the final day of last season. They have retained the services of Notts’ opener Jake Libby and Geoff Dods has joined from Southern Premier side Burridge CC.

Hucknall were winners in this fixture last year in a low scoring affair; neither side passed three figures!

The final game of the day sees Welbeck host last season’s runners-up Plumtree at Sookholme. The home side finished in the relegation places last year, but were reprieved after Clifton Village’s withdrawal in the close season. Skipper Jonathon Ball will be hoping to steer them clear of danger this time round and, in that regard, the services of Nadeem Malik have been retained and Josh Nicholas, who is on the books of Western Australia, has arrived for the summer.

The Plums, having finished 2nd in the past three seasons, must be wondering if this might finally be their year. Ben Storey is captain once more and, whilst he will have to make do without the runs of Hassan Azad, he welcomes his brother Sam back into the side after his absence last year and will be able to again call upon the services of all-rounder of the year Sam Wood and Northants’ Graeme White.

This fixture was another that was interrupted by the weather last year. Here’s hoping that is stays fine this weekend.