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CRICKET: Battle lines drawn for 40th anniversary crown
IT’S the league’s 40th anniversary season, and a series of events are being planned to celebrate the landmark.
Ten representative matches have been organised, and a six-a-side tournament is to be held on Horspath and Oxford’s four pitches on Sunday, August 24.
However, the big prize remains the Division 1 title, and this season’s top flight, which gets under way tomorrow, has an open look to it.
Thame Town, who finished strongly last season to take third place, will be looking to carry that momentum into the new campaign.
They ended up just a point behind Shipton-under-Wycwhood, who were later promoted under the Home Counties Premier League restructure.
Sam Lachlan has taken over the captaincy from Mike Higgs, and has a squad boosted by the acquisition of player-coach James Crichton, Jalpesh Vijay and talented young all-rounders Trenton Franco and Liam Evans.
They will be without Australian Deon Laubscher and John Maynard this term.
Cumnor, last season’s Division 2 champions, have former captain Sam Jones back after a season at Eynsham.
They have also signed Joe Dale, the Oxfordshire Cricket Board’s new school and club development officer, who opened the batting for Truro’s Premier League-winning side of 2011.
Promising youngsters Harry Ackland, James Fitzjohn and Max Mannering are also expected to make their mark.
And former Kent and Middlesex seamer Simon Cook could make the occasional appearance on his returns to this country from Hong Kong, where he is head coach.
Twyford have snapped up Jake Kubinek, a right arm fast bowler and hard-hitting middle order batsman from Redlands Tigers in Brisbane, as they look to build on last season’s fourth-place finish in their first top-flight campaign. They also welcome back Zawar and Kamber Hussain after brief spells away from the club.
Rory Lyon captains the side, with Sam Roberts stepping down to lead the second team.
Tiddington, promoted as the third-placed club in Division 2 last season, are set to be without skipper Matt Maule for the season as he still hasn’t recovered from breaking his right arm last July.
Nick Pykett is sidelined for a month with a broken hand, so veteran Jon Talbot takes on the captaincy in the short term.
New to the club are Merlin Vaughan and Tom Rowley, from Toombul, Queensland.
With Darren Risden hanging up his wicket-keeping gloves, Will Goodman takes over behind the stumps.
Oxford 2nd, under new captain Philip Evans, have recruited brothers Henry, Charles and William Pickford from Abingdon Vale, together with batsman/wicket-keeper AJ Patankar.
Luke Finch has joined Horspath, while Naeem Bandai has moved out to Cheltenham with work.
Oxford will be looking to Tim Sutton and Alex Morgan to build on their strong seasons last year, while Harvey Eltham and Wales Latif are two youngsters to watch out for.
Buckingham Town, who were only spared relegation by the Home Counties Premier League restructure, have boosted their squad by recruiting Lester Smart, who has years of Cherwell League experience, and Australian Justin Frew, a top order batter and wicket-keeper.
Wolverton Town, promoted as Division 2 runners-up last year, have strengthened their side with the addition of Jude Ramanadanpulle from Bletchley Town.
Will Watts is the new captain at Oxford Downs, while Banbury 2nd will be led by Andrew Sabin.
Great Brickhill, whose new outdoor nets were opened by England captain Alastair Cook this week, complete the line-up.