1st XI Pre-Season Review (Before WGCCC at home and PBCC away this weekend)

Banbury have emerged from a packed pre-season schedule of 3 friendlies and a national T20 KO match with 3 wins and a draw. Even more pleasing is the fact that we have seen meaningful contributions from all of the squad before what promises to be a very exciting opening weekend to the season proper.

All three Saturday warm up matches saw Banbury pile scores in excess of 290. Against Slough Nathan Hawkes, promoted to open the innings, and Craig Haupt made big scores which set Banbury away, before Luke Ryan and Luke Radford abated a mid innings wobble with useful contributions from 7 and 8 respectively. The bowlers showed good control and chipped away at Slough, Hugo Morrisey bowled well on Debut, removing both openers, before Ash Blanchard dismissed danger man Bobby Sher 2nd ball as one of his 3 victims. Ryan and Radford also found themselves among the wickets as Slough crumbled to 135 all out.

At Oxford downs the following week, all five batsmen who went to the wicket, scored runs. Sam Cheshire (46) and Lloyd Sabin (49), put on 96 for the first wicket before Richard West (95*), Ian Hawtin (52 retired) and Craig Haupt (45*) took Banbury to 296-3. Luke Ryan’s 4-9 from 9 overs was the main contributing factor in Down’s slide to 109 all out, though Blanchard, Olly Wright and Jimmy Phillips also took wickets.

The toughest of the 3 friendlies was Saturday against a Horsepath side who are on the up. Banbury found themselves in trouble at 38-3, but Shahbaz Ali (101 retired) and Ian Tew (73) used all of their experience to see Banbury to 299-5, Luke Radford again chipped in with a well compiled 50 in the closing overs. Ash Blanchard bowled a tidy opening spell of 5-3-4-1, but Horsepath moved to the promising position of 90-1 at tea. However when Phillips (3-38) removed both set batsmen in the first over after tea, Horsepath opted to use the remaining overs as a chance for their key players to find form and moved to a sedate 170-5 at the close. They look to have the players to make an impact on the HCPL Div 2 this season.

Far from sedate was the carnage that followed at Dinton on Monday in the national Twenty-20! A flat pitch, lightening fast outfield and short boundary one side resulted in what can only be described as a ‘run riot’! Dinton’s former Leicestershire and Gloucestershire wicketkeeper batsman, Mike Sutliffe, made a whirlwind 139 which saw Dinton to 187 in their 20 overs. In truth had Banbury held their catches it could have been different as Sutliff was dropped 3 times, the first time in the 6th over, however this does not take away from what was an exhibition of hitting of the highest order! Banbury’s chase was timed beautifully as they got home with 5 balls to spare. Luke Ryan exacted some revenge on the Dinton Bowlers with a 50 ball 67 while Haupt (27), Hawkes (20) and Ali (34) all kept the pace of the innings going as Banbury reached their unlikely target.

All this leads in nicely to a tough game against a strong Welwyn Garden City XI at Banbury this Saturday (11am). On Sunday our National Club Championship campaign gets underway at Potters Bar (1pm), once again we are depleted by a clash with the Minor Counties Trophy (7 Banbury Players will be representing Oxon) however we are able to call on the young talent from the 2nd XI who have a chance to stake their claim for 1st XI cricket in 2011.

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