Cavaliers obstacle for Cuckney - Notts Premier League weekend preview

Farnsfield v Papplewick and Linby.'Farnsfield's Zak Richmond-Dixon.
Farnsfield v Papplewick and Linby.'Farnsfield's Zak Richmond-Dixon.

The top fixture this weekend in the Nottinghamshire Premier League see Cuckney travel to Birchover Park to take on the West Indian Cavaliers.

The visitors, and leaders Rolls Royce, are pulling away at the top and there is 23 points between the two sides that meet at the weekend.

After a blistering start to the 2013 campaign, the Cavs have faltered in recent weeks and have now lost three of their last four games.

Bilal Shafayat has been in outstanding form with the bat though, averaging 73.67 including 73 last Saturday in the defeat at Rolls.

Cuckney are starting to put together some impressive performances and remain undefeated so far.

Their batting unit is in awesome form with Will Root, Richard Stroh and Nick Langford all in the league’s top 10 batting performers.

They will also be conscious of the last time these two sides met when Cuckney hung on for a losing draw when nine down at home in June 2012.

Another much anticipated game sees fifth-placed Caythorpe welcome leaders Rolls Royce in what should be a keenly-fought game.

The bowling unit that John Birch has assembled at Rolls is one that would not be out of place in first class cricket, but Caythorpe’s strength lays in the experience and talent in their batting line up. Rolls have won six of their eight games this term and Adam Shepherd is leading the league bowling stats with 25 wickets at less than 14 runs each, with excellent support provided by Ben Phillips and Luke Fletcher when available.

Josh Mierkalns started the season in outstanding form with the bat for Cuckney but has not got past nine in his last three innings, so will be due a substantial score.

At the bottom of the table, Farnsfield travel to Sookholme to take on Welbeck.

The newcomers had a solid start to the season, but their form has turned in recent weeks and they have lost their last three, including last weekend to Papplewick - a result which saw them drop below their opponents in the standings.

That fixture did have some bright spots, one being a breezy innings of 54 at the top of the order by 17-year-old Matthew Sisson and an economic spell by Notts’ spinner Graeme White.

Welbeck are only 19 points ahead of their visitors and their batting does seem to be overly reliant on their captain, Martyn Dobson.

Rob French is in good nick with bat and ball, demonstrated by his top score of 38 last week against Clifton following a return of 4-49 earlier in the day.

Papplewick will have been buoyed by that win over Farnsfield and will take more confidence into their home fixture this weekend against an improving Mansfield Hosiery Mills side.

The Millers are in fourth with three wins and despite a loss to the Cavaliers on Bank Holiday Monday, their general performance curve is upward.

Gareth Curtis is in superb form with back-to-back hundreds against Caythorpe and Farnsfield; skipper Matt New is now back after his early-season knee injury and Matt Wright is one of the most consistent performers with the ball.

Papplewick were beginning to look like a lost cause before last weekend’s win, and they are awaiting the arrival of signings Mal Loye and Phil Defreitas.

But Jim Rhodes (166 runs and 16 wickets) and Alex Lloyd (316 runs) are doing their best to keep their side in the top-flight and both played their part in their breakthrough win last weekend.

The Nottinghamshire Academy welcome Clifton to Lady Bay in what should be another close game, with just one point separating the sides in sixth and seventh spots.

Clifton are another side who started poorly, but have won their last three, against Farnsfield Papplewick and Welbeck.

Scott McNeill and Jarrod Coombe have both passed 260 league runs and Martin Weightman took the season’s second best figures (7-47) in the Welbeck win.

The Academy turned their losing streak around last week with a comfortable five wicket win away at Kimberley; Sam Kelsall (89), Adam Tillcock (76) and George Bacon (3-36) were the stars of that show.

Kimberley will want to return to winning ways as they travel to the PCG to take on a Plumtree side who have lost their last three since beating the Cavaliers at home.

The visitors have suffered successive losses against the Academy and Welbeck so this promises to be another tight game.

Sam Storey and Matt Wood have both passed 200 runs for the home side and Matt Milnes, who recently made his first class debut for Durham MCCU against Derbyshire, has been in good form with the ball.

Kimberley’s batting has been led by Paldip Sidhu (257 runs) and Sam Johnson has made a good return with 177 runs from his four games, but their bowling looks to be their weaker suit.