PREVIEW: Captain Clarke happy with clinical Town
The first day of the Northants Premier Division season (April 22) suggests the most competitive campaign for years lies ahead.
Reigning champions Old Northamptonians, who didn’t lose a single match in 2016, Rushden, the champions of 2015, and Finedon, a dominant force for the last two decades, were all beaten.
It makes Peterborough Town’s routine eight-wicket win over Wollaston at Bretton Gate look all the better.
It also convinced skipper David Clarke, that Town will need to be on their guard at Stony Stratford tomorrow (April 29).
Stony are perennial strugglers, but they also won their opening game, and in this fixture last season, played on the same weekend at the same venue, they skittled Town for 64 and yet still lost after being bowled out for 48 themselves!
“I hope the wicket isn’t quite so green this weekend,” Clarke said. “But even so, last weekend’s results show how tough the Northants League can be so we will have to be ready for anything.
“I was very pleased with the performance against Wollaston. They are a team we have struggled against in the past, but we were clinical and ruthless.
“We will need more of the same at Stony.”
Town are without professional all-rounder Paul McMahon because of work commitments tomorrow so teenager Connor Parnell steps up for his debut.
McMahon, who is recovering from a knee injury, only bowled two overs against Wollaston and didn’t bat.
Fast bowler Joe Dawborn started the summer with a bang by taking a wicket with the first ball of the season and another which his fourth ball on his way to figures of 5-32.
Off-spinner Lewis Bruce (3-9) and David Sayer (2-30) claimed the other wickets as Wollaston were routed for 106.
Clarke (45no) and Bruce (34) shared a second wicket stand of 79 as Town eased to victory.
Chris Milner (76), Kieran Judd (75) and Alex Mitchell (72no) were the batting stars as Town also made a winning start to their Rutland Division One season by chasing down Bourne’s 245-8 for the loss of just two wickets.
Teenage off-spinner Saif Mohammed (4-54) was impressive for Town on a belting batting wicket at Bretton Gate.
But Town seconds lost their opening game in Northants Division Two despite 66 from Srikanth Tummula in a team total of 204-8. Hosts St Crispin & Reynolds chased that total down, losing just four wickets on the way.
Oundle beat Brixworth on the opening day and seek another win at home to Rushden tomorrow.