Stratford head into new season lacking match practice

Stratford skipper Mike Brown took six wickets against Tamworth.

STRATFORD skipper Mike Brown admits his team are ‘a little underprepared’ ahead of their Birmingham League Division Two season, which starts this weekend.

The club go into their league opener against Old Elizabethans at the Memorial Ground on Saturday (12pm) without any outdoor practice under their belts.

Stratford’s two pre-season games were abandoned due to rain, while practice has also been out of the question following last month’s flooding at Swans Nest Lane.

“We haven’t managed to get outside yet,” said Brown.

“Both pre-season games have been abandoned and we’re in the rather unnatural position of having not bowled a competitive ball before the start of the season.

“I think we’re probably a little under prepared as a result, but we’ve been training hard and the indoor sessions standards have been high. It’s just very hard to replicate that when indoors.”

After last season’s promotion, it’s likely to be a season of consolidation for Stratford and Brown says he would be happy for his team to finish in the top half of the table.

He said: “It’s certainly going to be a tougher test this time around. There will be more strength in depth in the league, but hopefully we can continue our good progress.

“It’s difficult to tell where we will finish. What I’d like is to be going into the last few games to be there or thereabouts.

“As a team we’re historically slow starters and this year we are looking to improve our performances in the 50 over win-lose format.

“I’d like to be in the top of half of the table, definitely.”

Zimbabwean overseas signing, Yasser Sirdar, will make his debut this weekend after being named in this Saturday’s team.

Fellow new signing, David Bailey, will also make his first appearance for the club after joining from Leamington.

Brown added: “Team selection was tough this week. There is more competition for the places and it has been tricky to find the right balance to the side with five front line bowlers.”

Stratford: Rob West, John Price, Yasser Sirdar, David Bailey, Andrew Fisher, Chris Calcott, Adrian Witts, Tom Grundy, Perry Derrick, James Urquhart, Mike Brown