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Skipper’s high hopes for opening league game

SKIPPER James Urquhart is hopeful that Stratford’s opening match of the new Warwickshire League season will take place on Saturday as planned.

And the captain was delighted that he could finally bring his players together for outdoor nets at the club’s Swan’s Nest ground which had been under water just a few weeks earlier.

Stratford take on Rugby in this weekend’s Division One opener, the sides wearing their coloured kits for the opening few rounds of white ball games which will be win/lose with no chance of a draw.

Stratford Cricket Club's captain James Urquhart. Photo: Mark Williamson
Stratford Cricket Club's captain James Urquhart. Photo: Mark Williamson

Warm-up games have had to be cancelled and indoor nets at Morton Morrell College extended to compensate for the lack of useable outdoor facility.

Urquhart said: “I was down at the ground a couple of weeks ago and the ground moved when you walked on it because there was so much water in it. I understand that it has now dried out quite a bit and there are only one or two patches.

“The wind has been drying out the top of the pitch but not deep down so while it’s hard on top, it is still wet further down. We will just have to see how it plays but it might just be a low scoring game.

“Our seconds were due to play at Moseley but that has already been called off so that’s a bit frustrating but we know just how bad it’s been – we are all in the same boat.

“The league are making us start on time while other leagues, including the Birmingham League, have had their start pushed back. Some have been pushed back to the middle of May but because we have the play-offs immediately after the season [for promotion to the Birmingham League], we don’t have the scope to push it back.

“What they are doing is giving each team for an abandoned game rather than four points. That means those teams who have pitches clearly unfit to play on won’t be penalised so much. When it was only four points each then there was no point in calling a game off so teams were opting to play because even in defeat, they could get more than four points.”

Urquhart is hoping that two outdoor sessions this week will sharpen the catching and fielding going into Saturday’s game with a Rugby side who finished two places above Stratford in fourth last season.

On the player front, new wicket-keeper Chris Calcott is likely to start having previously played for the club seven years ago and there will be another new face in Dylan Kotedia – a batting all-rounder who gives Urquhart an additional bowling option. The skipper is also keen to recruit a new scorer to help on match days.

Play on Saturday is due to start at 12noon.

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