STAFFS V CUMB PREVIEW
Report from Allan Smith - 310719
At the half way stage of the Unicorns Championship season, Staffordshire sit top of the Eastern Division with a nine point advantage over second placed Lincolnshire. Staffs will be looking to maintain that lead as they take on Cumberland at Checkley Cricket Club starting this Sunday 4th August but, after throwing away a 16 point lead at the same stage last year, know only too well they need to maintain their early season form if they are to retain their advantage
Cumberland will pose a serious test of Staffs championship ambitions despite losing two of their three games so far this season. The experienced Gary Pratt returns to lead them after serving a ban and he will certainly strengthen them. Also included in their line-up is experienced spinner Toby Bulcock, former Cheshire seamer Adam Sydall and prolific run scorer Sam Dutton.
For Staffs, who have won their last two championship games, taking the final wicket in the last hour of the match, after drawing their opening fixture when rain washed out the final day. Unsurprisingly they have named an unchanged team from the one that defeated Hertfordshire by 75 runs last time out. Vice-captain Sam Kelsall remains unavailable so centurion Zen Malik retains his place along-side fellow ton up boys Michael Hill and Peter Wilshaw.
Staffs will be hoping they can maintain their good results at Checkley and follow up last season’s win their over Cambridgeshire with victory against Cumberland and maintain their title challenge.
The game is the first of two against Cumberland in successive weekends as, after the three day championship fixture at Checkley, the following Sunday August 11th the two counties meet again in the semi-final of the Unicorns Knock-Out Trophy with Staffs making the trip to Carlisle in their bid to reach the final.
Staffs team: Kadeer Ali ( Captain, West Bromwich Dartmouth), Zen Malik (West Bromwich Dartmouth), Matthew Morris (Westhoughton), Michael Hill (Meakins), Tim Maxfield (Brewood), Peter Wilshaw (Meakins), Spencer Byatt (Little Stoke), Dan Richardson (Leek), Paul Byrne (Walsall), Mitchell Spencer (Nantwich), James Cox (Westhoughton). 12th man Greg Willott (Bagnall Norton).
Play begins at 11am each day and admission is free with full bar & catering facilities available for spectators.