Kirby handed debut as Stratford look to ease relegation worries

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DANE Kirby will be handed his first-team debut today (Saturday) as Stratford look to ease their relegation worries.

Kirby will bat at No 5 as the Panthers, who slipped to second from bottom in Birmingham League Division Two after last week’s defeat to leaders Tamworth, head to title-chasing Harborne.

Batsman Kirby will be the only change to the Xi which faced Tamworth, with Sam Douthwaite dropping out.

The Australian, who is studying in Birmingham, has caught the attention with his runscoring exploits with the Second XI, including an outstanding 71 last week.

“Dane is in good form,” said Brown. “He is coming on off the back of two successive scores of 50-plus. He deserves his chance. It‘s a reward for his good recent form.

“The Seconds are doing well. There are guys getting runs consistently and for the first time in years there’s real pressure on players in the first team. We’ve got players who can step-up.”

Tom Grundy is still ruled out through injury while Ed Cunynghame, who missed last week’s game, returns in the Seconds for their home game against Eastnor.

Skipper Brown described the Firsts’ performance against Tamworth as the best of the season but they need to build on it against Harborne, who lie third in the standings.

“I was pleased with the batting and the bowling but we still lost,” said Brown. “We can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve got to work on everything.

“Another 30 runs in our last few overs last week might have made all the difference.”