Peterborough Town’s preparation for their opening Northants Premier Division match of the season against local rivals Oundle couldn’t have gone much worse.
The departure of superstar players, a 20 point deduction for failing to attend the Northants League Annual General Meeting and the lack of match practice have all hit Town hard ahead of their Bretton Gate clash tomorrow (May 5, noon).
It’s the first competitive action of the Premier Division season for both clubs after the entire programme was washed out last Saturday (April 28).
Town’s bad news continued this week as fast bowler David Sayer became unavailable, but star all-rounder Lewis Bruce, whose availability is expected to be limited this summer, will play.
Oundle are also not at full strength. This year’s South African import, seam bowler Liam Fresen, is still recovering from an injury and will play second-team cricket this weekend.
Oundle’s team boasts four former Nassington players, Connor Craig, Harrison Craig, Tom Norman and Dan Robinson. Robinson will keep wicket as Sam Malton has left Oundle without playing a game.
Town won’t comment on the points deduction in detail until their appeal has been heard.
“It’s frustrating, but we believe we have a good case to appeal,” Town skipper David Clarke said. “But we will put it to the back of our minds for now and concentrate on the cricket.
“Games against Oundle are always good and competitive. Both teams have changed considerably since last season, but both teams still have very good players so it should another good contest.
“Oundle will certainly be stronger once everyone is around, but I remain convinced we will do a lot better than some are predicting.
“It’s a tough opening game, but we always look forward to playing against good players.
“I’m a little concerned about how little outdoor practice we have had so far this season, but that’s the case for most teams at the moment.”
Oundle, who have never beaten Town in a Premier Division game, will give a debut to star signing James Kettleborough, a high class opening batsman who’s moved to the club from Rushton. Kettleborough is a former Northants player who now skippers Derbyshire seconds.
Kettleborough joins another former first-class player Ben Smith at Milton Road.
There will be competitive debuts for Vansh Bajaj and Mark Edwards for Town. Matt Milner has also returned to the club after a couple of seasons in exile at Ketton
Peterborough Town (from): D. Clarke, A. Butt, R. Sayer, A. Mitchell, K. Judd, M. Milner, C. Milner, M. Danyaal, M. Edwards, V. Bajaj, J. Smith, L. Bruce
Oundle Town: M. Hodgson, J. Kettleborough, D. Robinson, B. Smith, P. Adams, C. Craig. T. Norman, H. Craig, P. Patel, M. Qadeer.