Taunton Prepare For Lashings Finale
All eyes are on Sunday 7th September with Taunton Cricket Club set to bring down the curtain on the 2014 campaign with a show-stopping season finale against the world-renowned Lashings All Stars.
With what could still be a title-winning season for the Gipysy Lane outfit drawing to a close, Jack Cooper’s men are vying for the chance to pit their wits against some of the crème de la crème of world cricket.
Preparations for the clash are in their final stages and, despite the side remaining firmly in the hunt for the Bristol and Somerset Division crown ahead of next week’s clash with Old Bristolians Westbury, the dressing room is already buzzing at the thought of facing up to some of the biggest names in the sport.
And skipper Cooper believes the fixture is a sign that the club is back on an upward trajectory after a couple of disappointing years:
"This is a great a chance to showcase our fantastic club against the most famous club of all," he explained.
"We’ve got a very close knit squad this year and everyone is really excited about the chance to play in this fixture.
"Obviously things haven’t always gone our way over the past few season, but we’ve still got a shot at promotion next week and we’re hoping to finish off our amazing turnaround as a club with a win against Lashings."
The illustrious visitors have been taking on club cricketers around the world since their inception in 1984 and will head to the Westcountry unbeaten in 2014.
Enigmatic club owner David Folb has overseen the meteoric rise of the side from its more humble beginnings as a Maidstone pub side to one which boasts more international experience than most national sides.
With both Yasir Arafat and Dirk Nannes - two of the leading wicket takers in world T20 history – set to take their place in the visitor’s line up the afternoon promises to be a difficult one for their amateur opponents.
As if that wasn’t enough the Taunton boys must also contend with the likes of Saqlain Mushtaq, Owais Shah and Wasim Jaffer, while local favourite Ian Blackwell - who has been playing club cricket for Wembdon this year - is also set to feature.
But the hosts are on an eight-match winning streak themselves and will fancy their chances of causing an upset on home turf.
Recent Somerset debutant Tom Abell is averaging a mammoth 128 with bat in hand, overseas star Chris Davenport has already topped the 500-run mark and the swashbuckling skipper has previously registered a half-century against the illustrious opposition back when he was a school boy.
On the bowling front the fiery new ball pair of George Cook and Harry Popplewell - son of former Somerset star Nigel - will be out to claim a ruffle a few feathers, with spin duo Ben Orr, Chris Greenwood on hand to try and outfox the star studded Lashings line-up later in the innings.
With a fully-licensed bar and BBQ to go alongside a variety of stalls and events there is something for everyone on what promises to be a spectacular afternoon for the whole family.
The fun gets underway from 3pm at Taunton Vale Sports Club, Taunton, Somerset, TA2 6LP and entry is free to all!
Taunton CC Squad: Jack Cooper*, Jon Kerslake+, Charles Clist, Chris Davenport, Tom Abell, Rob Hake, George Webber, George Cook, Harry Popplewell, Chris Greenwood, Ben Orr
Preliminary Lashings All Stars Squad: Phillip DeFreaitas*, Wasim Jaffer, Saqlain Mushtaq, John Emburey, Chris Schofield, Darren Maddy, Alex Tudor, Owais Shah, Dirk Nannes, Ian Harvey, Yasir Arafat, Ian Blackwell