05:00PM, Thursday 05 May 2022
Boyne Hill Cricket Club get the new Thames Valley Cricket League Division 1 season underway against Ickenham on Saturday under the guidance of a new captain, after Ziya Mohamed took over from Tom Mellor.
With Mellor stepping down to play for the club's second team this summer, Mohamed will take on the mantel and he clearly has ambitions to improve on last season's fourth placed finish.
Boyne Hill improved as the campaign went on and finished fairly strongly, however, they were still quite a few points adrift of league champions Stoke Green, whose promotion to Home Counties Cricket League Division 2 was refused due to ground grading issues.
They're back in the division once again, as are Burnham following their relegation from the Home Counties League after a disappointing season.
Those two sides, along with Cookham Dean, Gerrards Cross and Boyne Hill are once again likely to contest the division’s top spots, however, Mohamed admits it's difficult to know before the season starts who the main contenders will be.
Speaking this week, he said: “I missed the first six games last season, but we had a good second half to the season.
“The other half of the season was a bit of a roller-coaster, a bit up and down.
“We lost a few games we should have won and that meant we finished fourth.
“This year I think we have a strong side, but it's hard to tell how the other teams have been doing and whether they've also strengthened. We're expecting a tough season, but our friendlies and training have gone well.
“Division 1 has always been a tough division and there are always two or three teams that are tough, and the other teams are quite similar as well. It will take two or three games for our team to gel, and we'll have to see how we go from there.
“We want to win the league this year, because we've got quite a strong team this year, but it all depends on how the team gels really.
“I think we'll have a clearer picture as to how it might go after two or three games.”
The availability of players on a week-to-week basis - as well as the weather - might have an impact on whether teams are able to sustain a title challenge this season, but Mohamed is confident Boyne Hill have enough quality in their group.
“We have someone who is getting married (Sajid Ali), and he's going to be out for about four or five games,” he said. “We also have some schoolteachers who will miss some games.
“But we've picked up a few good players. We've got Nabil Janed from Slough and Imran Butt who played for Cookham Dean last year. We also have a young Berkshire spinner, Humza Ishaq, who also played for Slough last year.
“We've also got Cookham's overseas from last season, Samad Fallah, a quick bowler. So, we've got a pretty good side I'd say.”
Elsewhere this Saturday, Burnham start at home to Gerrards Cross, Cookham Dean host Henley 2nds and defending champions Stoke Green are at home to Beaconsfield. Dropping down a division Marlow visit Wraysbury in Division 2A, Hurst host Sulhamstead & Ufton in Division 2B and Royal Ascot visit Wokingham 2nds.
In Division 3A Windsor visit Harpsden and in 3B Maidenhead & Bray go to OMT.
Hurley’s season got off to an inauspicious start as they failed to chase down a modest target against Rangers CC at Shepherds Lane.
Skipper Yasir Gul won the toss and invited the visitors to bat first, Aman Singh making an early breakthrough trapping Kumar in front with only 11 runs on the board.
The Rangers innings continued to stutter along, as Phil Ridgway (3-24) and Jaspreet Singh (2-16) picked up wickets, but Rangers last three batsmen managed to add 31 runs to take the visitors to a total of 136 all out from 36 overs.
The Hurley reply could hardly have started any worse, with Clive Williams departing to his third delivery.
Many of their batsman flattered to deceive, getting starts before falling to injudicious shots.
What should have been an easy target proved not to be so as the hosts sunk to 60 for 5 in fifteen overs. Of the top five, only Josh Cole (32) made double figures.
When the ninth wicket fell in the 26th over, Hurley were still 50 runs adrift. Joban Singh and Liam Cole 2 added another 14 runs before Cole was run out.
If Hurley are to have any ambitions in the Chiltern & Mid Bucks Premiership this season, the batting will have to improve on this showing.
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