08:24AM, Thursday 30 July 2020
Brett van Niekerk
With the pressure of promotion and relegation not hanging over their heads, Maidenhead & Bray have the freedom to go out and express themselves this season says captain Brett van Niekerk.
After flirting with relegation over the last few seasons in TVL Division 1, van Niekerk is hopeful of more in a season which only got underway two weeks ago. His side hammered Hayes on July 18, bowling them out for just 68 runs with Arul Appavoo taking 5-13, and they were embroiled in tight game against Hounslow & Whitton on Saturday before the game was abandoned.
The captain is looking forward to a season without the pressures of promotion and relegation and feels he can use that to the club’s advantage by blooding new talent, trying new combinations or changing tactics.
“We’re very happy to be back out there in the middle,” said Van Niekerk.
“I suppose this season, with no promotion or relegation, we get a chance to try different things without any pressure.
“You can try a few new combinations or a few new players in different situations. It’s a good way to prepare ourselves for next season.
“Maybe I’ll give guys who haven’t played for the 1s before, or have been on the fringes of the first team, a chance to show what they can do.
“It was good to start off well. It focuses the guys and gets them motivated after such a long break. Our bowlers did well to get them (Hayes) out for 68, you’ve got to bowl well to do that and batting wise we did what was needed. In some ways it’s good that we don’t have promotion or relegation but you still want to keep that competitive edge.”
Van Niekerk was frustrated Saturday’s game fell foul of the weather having been confident Maidenhead could have built on their opening day victory over Hayes.
He also felt that the hard work of club members to get the game on counted for little, however, he and his teammates will be looking to shake themselves dry in time for Saturday’s trip to High Wycombe 2nds. Wycombe are new to the division and van Niekerk can’t wait to see how the two teams match up.
“I want us to get as high as we can because for the last few seasons we’ve been in and around the relegation fight,” he said. “We’ve got good availability so we want to push on and we don’t have any excuses because we can put out a strong side every week.”
“Saturday was frustrating because there’s a lot of preparation that goes into these matches now, with not having changing rooms and all the regulations. So it takes a lot for clubs to set these matches up, but we can’t control the weather. It was just nice to get out there and play, even going for net practise is good and it’s great to have the social aspects of the game back again.
“I was very pessimistic that there would be any games this summer. I didn’t think they’d take the risk down to club level, but I’m glad that they have. Everyone is being sensible with regards to the sanitary breaks, everyone understands the situation and the umpires have been very clear about what we can and can’t do when out on the field. Everyone has respected the rules because everyone is just happy to be back out there again.”
He added: “They’re one of the few sides that have come into our division and we haven’t played them before which makes it interesting,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say you become stale if you play the same old sides but it’s nice to have new challenges.
“It keeps thing interesting.”
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