Kimberley set to get NPL campaign underway

Kimberley captain Sam Ogrizovic.
Kimberley captain Sam Ogrizovic.

Kimberley Institute will get their Nottinghamshire Premier League season underway this weekend with a visit to champions West Indian Cavaliers.

The second XI will also begin their campaign in the South Notts League, as they host newly-promoted Bottesford.

There’s an air of excitement around the 2bm Ground as players and supporters hope the positive strides taken by all sides last season can be built upon and maybe even lead to some more silverware.

There have been a few ins and outs in the first XI squad during the winter as Atif Sheikh has moved to Hucknall Rolls Royce, New Zealander Bharat Popli has returned home and Kimberley youth product Paldip Sidhu has joined opening opponents Cavaliers.

Coming in are all-rounder George Bacon and batsman Tom Rowe from the Notts Academy while James Taylor, another batsman, has joined from Rolls Royce and former captain and long-time Kimberley player Jon Shaw will be making a handful of appearances in the early season whilst he is on an extended holiday from his adopted home in Australia.

Another former Kimberley captain, Nick Rook, has returned to manage the first XI squad this season and his experience and cricketing knowledge will no doubt prove invaluable.

With Bacon and Rowe joining an already young side there is plenty of optimism for the season ahead.

Captain Sam Ogrizovic said: “Without a doubt this year is the most exciting since I have been in charge. We have the youngest and hungriest squad in the league and are on the cusp of something really exciting with this group of players and, whilst we lack experience, I would not swap my squad of players for any other Premier League.

“I think a realistic aim is to look to break into the top four of the league and to win a cup competition, something which as a group we are really focused on achieving.”

Whilst the majority of the squad are relatively young many have now clocked up several Premier League seasons with the likes of Dominic Wheatley and James Mann approaching veteran status.

Last season’s star imports - batsman Sam Johnson and spinner Alex King - will no doubt be looking to repeat their efforts, with Dominic Brown fresh from a winter Down Under learning from Jon Shaw and Ben Savage fully fit after not being able to bowl for much of 2013 with a shoulder injury.

A strong first XI squad for Kimberley should mean the second XI will benefit with those not selected for first team action bolstering the second string.

Captain Steve Bennett will certainly hope so and will no doubt also hope to build on the more promising elements of what at times was a frustrating 2013 season.

The seconds are another side populated with youngsters, many of whom will no doubt be looking to feature in the first XI at some point and the prospect of a Popkess Cup Final appearance at Kimberley at the end of the season should be a suitable inspiration to help the side to reach the final again; although with a win being the result this time around.

The third and fourth XIs will once again have youth as a key feature.

Third team captain Paul Taylor will be hoping to record back to back promotions after winning South Notts League Division H last season and new fourth XI captain Rich Kelley will also be looking to oversee a successful campaign.

Both teams begin their respective seasons on Saturday, May 3 with the third XI hosting Burton Joyce at home on the Basil Russell Playing Fields whilst the fourth XI travel to Wymeswold.