Acle captain Shaun Roberts hopes to build on first win of season in Norfolk Cricket Alliance
Acle captain Shaun Roberts believes the next two weeks will be pivotal for his side after they finally recorded their first win of the season last weekend.
Roberts' team have endured a miserable start to the campaign featuring a string of batting collapses, but they shrugged off their woes to beat Diss by 64 runs on Saturday in the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division.
They host Lowestoft tomorrow before another crucial home match against fellow strugglers Ashmanhaugh & Barton Wanderers the following weekend: 'The next two weeks could be key for us,' said Roberts. 'After the Wanderers game we go into a run of games against the stronger sides and we really need to go into those games with some positive results under our belt. You never know, if we can sneak a victory out of one of those tough games then we can look to string together a few wins in the second half of the season.
'I wouldn't write us off just yet. There's a long way to go in the season and we're only just coming up to the halfway point. Because of the weather, a lot of the games so far have been decided on the toss, and there is still a lot of cricket to be played this year.'
Roberts admitted it was a relief to get off the mark in the wins column after six defeats and a losing draw following Acle's promotion as Division One champions last summer. 'After the first couple of matches were rained off we had an awful run of games against sides who will finish in the top part of the table,' he said. 'You maybe never expect to get too much from those games, but once you get on a losing streak it is hard to battle out of it.
'It was nice to get the ball rolling on Saturday, but it was only one game and now we've got to do it again this weekend and try to get some more positive results before that difficult run of fixtures comes around again.'
At the heart of Acle's problems has been their batting frailty and their total of 153 at Diss was comfortably their biggest league score of the season. They have also crashed out of the NACO and Carter Cup competitions with scores of 28 and 43 respectively. 'On paper we've got a strong batting line-up, but when you're not feeling confident it's difficult to go out and play your shots,' said Roberts. 'We aren't in the Norfolk Twenty20 Cup or the Mid Norfolk Sunday League, so a lot of the batsmen are going from Saturday to Saturday without playing inbetween and because of the weather we have only been able to have three training sessions on a Thursday night this year.
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'When you start to doubt your own game it gets even worse and it got to the stage after six or seven weeks of low scores where it's difficult as a captain to know what to say. We've tried different combinations and changed the batting line-up, but last Saturday was the first time we have been able to field the same side from the previous week and that consistency is important.'
Josh Rowe led the way with the bat on Saturday with 49 and he featured in a strong partnership with Darren Ward (34). John Lee then ran through the Diss batting with five wickets, including three in one over. 'John didn't get a bowl the week before against North Runcton and he was quite rightly disappointed with that,' said Roberts. ' We opened with Josh Rowe and Charlie Harkness on Saturday and after a rain break we brought John on with Paul Newman and the batsmen could not get a bat on either of them.
'At one point John had figures of five for six from five overs and he was looking mean and angry, which is perhaps what we have been lacking. It was good to see him back among the wickets and as we are without Paul Newman this weekend we'll need him and the other seamers to do the job for us.'