Preview: Taunton Take On Old Bristolians
Taunton Cricket Club return to competitive action when they host Old Bristolians at the weekend.
The Gypsy Lane outfit are all set to start their third campaign in the Bristol & Somerset season and will doubtless have half an eye on promotion come September
After a pair of convincing warm up wins over local rivals Taunton Deane and Taunton School Jack Cooper’s men will be looking to hit the ground running in Saturday’s Bank Holiday Clash.
And vice-captain Ben Orr was confident that his side’s close season preparations would stand them in good stead come the weekend.
"Obviously none of us can wait to get back out there in the league and it’s a great boost that our first game at home," he said.
"We’ve had a good winter of indoor training and commitment and application from everyone throughout the club has been brilliant," he added.
"Then we had a couple of great wins in pre season against strong opposition which was a real bonus.
"Hopefully we can keep that momentum going when the weekend comes around."
The two sides last met on a dramatic final day of the 2013 season.
Saturday’s visitors triumphed on that occasion with the defeat looking to have consigned Taunton to a third relegation in five seasons, only for the Somerset boys receive a lucky reprieve from league officials a few weeks later.
A mixture of form and availability were the driving forces behind such a poor run and the side will be bolstered by a number of new signings this time around.
Australian Chris Davenport and George Webber will add further quality to a top order already containing the considerable talents of Messrs Abell, Cooper and Kelly.
Off-spinning all-rounder Graham Fitt will doubtless prove a canny acquisition from near neighbours Bishops Lydeard, while the hard-hitting Bob ‘S*&%’ Hake will pull on the TCC jersey once more after a few seasons terrorising West Somerset League attacks.
And Orr was confident that the new additions will provide healthy competition for places among an already strong line-up.
"We’ve certainly got a bigger squad this year and everyone is capable of real quality," he explained.
"Chris is coming over having played Grade A cricket back home and George is a playing member of the MCC.
"Both look like proper cricketers and I’m sure they’ll enjoy playing on our batting track.
"Graham’s come over from Bishops Lydeard and he knows most of the boys already so he’ll have no problem slotting in and Rob of course has been here before and will be doing a bit of coaching with the boys as a bonus."
Taunton will be without the services of the Kelly twins and Chris Greenwood at the weekend, but Somerset starlet Tom Abell has been cleared to take part having been on 12th man duty for the County this week at Hove.
Skipper Jack Cooper will take charge of the side for the first time, with vice-captain Orr and the evergreen Jon Kerslake sure to be on hand to lend an ear when required.
All-rounders George Cook, Matt Dare and Si Stewart make up the rest of the side. The game is due to start at 1.00pm on Saturday with the full Taunton line-up as follows:
Cooper (cpt) Abell, Cook, Dare, Davenport, Fitt, Hake, Kerslake (wk), Orr, Stewart, Webber