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Datchet ready to renew rivalry with 2019 champions Henley

Datchet captain Bobby Sher

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Old rivalries will be renewed and new ones will be formed during this season’s Home Counties Premier League season, and Datchet skipper Bobby Sher is confident his side can be in the running to lift the cup.

Datchet, and Saturday’s visitors Henley, will be two of the favourites in the redesigned competition, which has seen the divisions combined. The top four sides after eight rounds of matches then compete to lift the cup and the next four sides will play off in the Bowl competition.

Last season’s Division 1 champions Henley got the better of Datchet twice last season, but narrowly so, and Sher is hoping they can turn the tables on them this weekend. Sher is confident Datchet can compete for a top four finish and they’ve made an assured start, defeating Harefield by six-wickets on the opening day of the season. They’d have likely won Saturday’s match at Wargrave too, but the game was abandoned due to bad weather with Datchet 168-2 in the 24th over.

“It’s just nice to get out there,” said Sher. “I know there are certain restrictions but it’s just really nice to get out there and play a bit of cricket after all this time. It’s nice they’ve arranged something like that.

“It puts an element of competition in there and I know it won’t be the same as playing in the league, but they’ve managed to get some cricket on and there’s something at the end to win. I’m sure the teams will be putting out their strongest sides and doing the best they can.”

“Henley are a good side, they always are. And we’re also playing some teams from the lower division.

“We’ll play against teams we haven’t played in a while or before. So there’s an element of surprise there.

“It’s enjoyable. It’s 40 overs, it’s a bit different and the guys are having fun. They can go out and express themselves and play some shots early doors. The bowlers have also got less of a workload with eight overs each.”

Sher expects this season’s matches will be well contested, despite there being no promotion or relegation.

He also hopes that player availability will be good for the rest of the campaign and he expects Henley to be strong on Saturday.

He’s also been pleasantly surprised by the side’s form in the opening weeks of the season. David Brent came ever so close to a century in the opening day win over Harefield and several others have also impressed.

“We’ve been lucky really because we’ve had good availability every week, with nine or 10 first team regulars available and hopefully that will continue,” he said.

“Having had a look at their side over the past two weekends I think Henley will be as strong as they were last year as well. Obviously I don’t know how it will work with their contracted first clash players, but I’d expect teams like Henley and High Wycombe to put out their first team squads.

“They’ve (Henley) got some very, very good cricketers, and if you don’t want to test yourself against the best in the league then there’s not really much point in playing cricket. It’s enjoyable. We had a couple of good games with them last year but they got the better of us. So hopefully we can turn it around this year.”

He added: “We were very happy where we were (when game was abandoned) Joe Barrett batted superbly up front for us. Billy Mead who has come into the side for us this year started off with a couple of very classy 20 odds and David Brent scored 40-odd this week and 90-odd not out the previous week so the guys have got a bit of a bat. We were in a very good position when we came off.

“I think we need to make top four. I’m definitely hoping we can be in that top four and if we perform as well as we should be there’s no reason why we can’t go further than the top four.”

The derby between Slough and Burnham last weekend also failed to go the distance, with Slough on 96-6 in the 28th over when play was ended. This weekend Slough travel to Chesham at The Meadow while Burnham visit Tring Park.

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