Ashington Cricket Club’s first XI skipper Greg Williams believes this weekend’s derby against Bedlington presents a massive challenge for his side.
The clubs meet for the first time on Saturday in the Go North East Northumberland & Tyneside Senior League’s A1 division at Langwell Crescent.
The 35-year-old, who has seen his outfit claim back to back wins over Alnmouth & Lesbury and Annfield Plain, said: “I’ve never played for Ashington against Bedlington in a league clash – but I know it will be a massive game.
“There will be a lot of pressure on us because we finished as league runners-up last season and everyone will be expecting us to win, but cricket is not that simple with any team capable of winning on their day and we will go into the clash as if we were playing the likes of Swalwell or Shotley Bridge.
“I have got good friends in the Bedlington ranks and I’m looking forward to playing against them.
“It’s great to see another local team in our league and in my opinion Bedlington have got a fair side with some good cricketers, and it’s not going to be an easy game in any shape or form.”
Williams, who is anticipating a bumper crowd to watch the action, has one alteration to his side.
He said: “Apart from Simon Prudhoe who is unavailable, we will be at full strength.
“Matty Storey will come in and is a good replacement. He’s scored a lot of runs including a century for the second team and has had a couple of 50s in cup matches, so he is in good nick.” Sean McCafferty, in his first season as first XI skipper with the Hirst Head outfit, has seen his side lose their first three games in the A1 division after they clinched promotion last term.
And whilst he lists them as underdogs for Saturday’s clash, he foresees the tide turning.
The 23-year-old said: “It’s a one-off game and whilst we will go into it as underdogs we are hoping we can get our first win following three defeats in a row.
“The lads are a little bit low on confidence but we need to pick ourselves up - and the derby comes at a good time and is an ideal game for the lads to express themselves and hopefully see us get a surprise win.”
He continued: “I am seeing improvements every week. We are playing well in patches but not stringing it together for the whole of the time, but I’m convinced that the tide will turn.”
McCafferty revealed that Ashington’s in-form batsman Anirudh Singh will not come under the microscope for special attention.
“Ani is a top cricketer but we will treat him just like any other player and hope to get him out sharp,” he said.
“If not we will look to starve him of the strike, but he is a hard player to bowl too because he can hit the ball 360 degrees anywhere on the field.”
On his starting XI, McCafferty said: “We are hoping to field our strongest side. We will play the game hard on the field and see what happens.
“But the players on both sides know each other and afterwards, we’ll all mix together.”
The game has a 1.30pm start.