This weekend sees a host of Notts Premier League fixtures that pitch top-half sides against those in the lower six positions with one key exception taking place at The Fieldings where Mansfield Hosiery Mills welcome the Nottinghamshire Academy.
The county side are in fourth spot just six points ahead of their hosts and have won their last four completed games.
The Millers have not been beaten since their loss to the Cavaliers at the end of May and will want to improve on the losing draw against the Academy at Lady Bay in April.
That game saw Tom Rowe (77) and Luke Wood (4-32) take starring roles for Notts with Gareth Curtis (60) and Matt Wright (5-74) also having fine games for this week’s home side. Both teams will be aware that a win will keep them in touch with the top three.
Rolls Royce are the top of the pile, but only by two points, and this weekend they travel to the Clifton Oval to take on a side fighting to escape the bottom four.
Clifton will have taken great confidence from their close seven-run win over Caythorpe last week when Martin Weightman and Richard Wyld each took three wickets after Caleb Mierkalns top-scored with 44.
The contest will prove a good test for Rolls, who wobbled last week when they clung on for a losing draw at home to Kimberley and have now only won one of their last four games.
Tom Lungley remains the form batsmen for the visitors with 381 runs and Nottinghamshire’s Luke Fletcher scored a valuable 84 last week.
West Indian Cavaliers travel to Papplewick looking to secure a third successive victory after home wins over Clifton and Farnsfield.
Bilal Shafayat was the most influential player in those matches with remarkable figures of 12-2-16-5 against Clifton and 65 from 49 balls against Farnsfield.
Akhil Patel was a shrewd signing in the winter and he tops the Cavs’ stats with 405 runs including four half centuries and he has also recently been trying his hand with the Surrey 2nd XI after being released by Trent Bridge last year.
Papplewick put in one of their strongest batting performances of the season when they scored 282 in the losing draw at Plumtree last time out, but the fact that they were chasing a mammoth 318 shows that their bowling remains a concern.
Jim Rhodes leads their attack with 19 wickets at 22 runs each, but is the only leading Papplewick bowler conceding fewer that 4½ runs an over.
Plumtree’s South African batsmen David Bedingham has suddenly sprung to form, including 139 in the winning draw against Papplewick last week and another ton on Sunday in the Newark Alliance to pass the 1,000 run mark for the season.
He will want to continue that form as his side travel to Sookholme looking to the double over Welbeck.
Keeper Joe Tetley also scored his maiden Plumtree hundred in the Papplewick game and also hit 44 in the win over Welbeck earlier in the year.
Jake Ball is likely to be missing for the home side and their two key players in his absence remain Martyn Dobson (437 runs) and Jon Ball (205 runs and 13 wickets).
Farnsfield, at home to Caythorpe, are also looking to secure a double as they defeated the visitors in the corresponding match earlier this year and the key performers then were skipper Paul Franks (3-40 and 41) and Michael Ball (47).
They have found wins hard to come by since that game, adding only additional victory but Caythorpe have not won since the giant-killing of Rolls Royce on 15th June.
Two familiar names head their batting statistics – Josh Mierkalns has scored 411 league runs and Darren Bicknell 319, but Steve Allcoat did his best to stave off defeat last week at home to Clifton with his innings on 87.
The final game sees second placed Cuckney travel to Kimberley’s 2BM ground looking to keep the pressure on leaders Rolls Royce.
They will want to reprise last year’s big win when they overcame Kimberley by 184 runs when Richard Stroh and Luke Wood each took three wickets.
Wood, of course, has moved on to the Academy, but Stroh remains a pivotal player with 465 runs and 19 wickets.
The home side’s season has been characterised by a lack of consistency.
They will be buoyed by their winning draw last time out against Rolls, but have not won since the away win over Welbeck in the first weekend in June.
Bharat Popli scored 133 in the Rolls game and will hope to take that form forward on Saturday.