Strength in depth title key – Austin
KEITH PEEL Robbie Austin expects current top three teams to dominate the climax to this season's Lovewell Blake Norfolk Alliance Championship race.
Robbie Austin expects current top three teams to dominate the climax to this season's Lovewell Blake Norfolk Alliance Championship race.
“Great Witchingham, Norwich & Coltishall Wanderers and North Runcton look to have the strongest sides in the Premier Division,” said Old Buckenham's captain.
“Mohammad Wasim is a quality cricketer who offers an awful lot to Wanderers, but they have some very useful other players and are certainly not a one-man team.
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“It's the same with Witchingham. Their overseas player, Stephan Le Roux, scored a century when they beat us earlier this season, but they have strength in depth.
“North Runcton are invariably there or thereabouts, and they have two outstanding batsmen in James Brown and Christo de Jager.”
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Brown hit 156 and de Jager 144 as second-placed Runcton beat Swardeston last weekend to move to within eight points of Witchingham, their next opponents on Saturday at Walcis Park.
Buckenham's own overseas player is 21-year-old Pakistani batsmen Khaqan Arsal, of whom Austin said: “He's a good lad who has been involved with Pakistan Youth, knows what the game is all about and is hungry for runs.”
On the general issue of overseas players, which is again the subject of much boundary debate, Austin said: “I have mixed feelings. There's an awful lot of money being spent and you have to question whether it's for the right reasons.
“But from my point of view, I want to play strong cricket and, without them, the standard would certainly drop.
“That's the disadvantage of not having overseas players. It would be a poorer league without them.”
He added: “The overseas player debate will rumble on and, towards the end of the season, there's going to be some decision made, either by the league or by clubs who simply can't afford it.”
Old Buckenham entertain Downham on Saturday, when other top-flight fixtures are Norwich & Coltishall Wanderers v Cromer, Swardeston v Topcroft and Vauxhall Mallards v Beccles.
Swardeston, the new Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League leaders, are at Clacton, while second-placed Bury St Edmunds take on Cambridge Granta at Clare College.
Fakenham play Vauxhall Mallards at Highfield Lawn, Horsford are at Mildenhall and Norwich go to Godmanchester.