SPIRITS are high at the Lime Kilns after an encouraging start by Oakham’s two Saturday sides on day one of the Everards Leicestershire League.
Oakham’s 2nds, led by Matt Osman, hammered Billesdon 2nds at home while the 1st XI were well on the way to winning when the weather ended their hopes of an opening day victory.
The first team set their hosts, Kegworth, a target of 207 with skipper Sean Cowley hitting an impressive 90 as Oakham made 206-9. Kegworth were struggling at 101-6 midway through their 45 overs when the elements brought an early end to proceedings.
Oakham picked up 13 points and although they were unable to complete the victory, skipper Cowley was delighted with the way his side looked.
“We were in a really great position before losing about 20 of their overs,” he said. “They were 60 for 5 at one point and chasing the game.
“We batted well as a unit and then showed excellent use of the ball.”
Shyam Lakhani took a splendid five wickets for just 24 runs off 10 overs and Cowley was full of praise for the 17-year-old.
Cowley said: “He bowled a superb spell. For three of his five, he cleaned bowled good players. He’s somebody we want to spearhead the attack in coming years.”
After narrowly avoiding the drop from division three in their first season the Leicestershire league last year, Oakham are looking to improve on that this summer with the skipper aiming for the top half of the table.
“Last year we just managed to stay up but a lot of that was down to struggling to keep a regular side.
“We need a settled side. That can be the key and Steve Mendes will be turning out for us this season. He will be a real asset.
“Our aim will be to finish in the top half and after Saturday’s performance I think we have what it takes.”
Modest about is own knock, Cowley said: “It’s always good to get off to a flyer but I was well supported by Will Stuart-Jones (32) and Rory Brown (33).
Another Oakham player to get close to a century on the opening day was Steve Lockwood for Oakham 2nds.
Lockwood hit 94 alongside Matt Edge’s 49 to turn Oakham’s innings around after a shaky start at home on Saturday.
Oakham went on to make 272 – an innings that included a mammoth 57 extras – before dismissing Billesdon 2nds for 123 in a fraction under 31 of the allotted 45 overs.
Second skipper Matt Osman said: “It was a good start to the season. Billesdon were a strong side last year.
“We had a shaky start at 32-3 but Steve and Mazz (Edge) pulled it right back.
“Mazz is Mr Dependable and topped the division last year in the high 50s. He was a run short of 50 on Saturday.
“Andy Ainscough had a decent knock and took four wickets. He was excellent.”
Some of the younger bowlers will also be crucial for Oakham’s promotion bid this season, which only stalled last season after a lengthy spell of poor weather.
Osman said: “Ben Lemon has been at the club for a while and we expect great things from him this season and Jamie Oakley is a very good prospect and possibly more of a first team player.” Oakley’s left arm spin claimed six wickets on Saturday.”
Osman, whose side face Market Bosworth this weekend, added: “They were relegated last year so it should be a good game.”
Oakham’s 1st XI play Billesdon 1st XI at the Lime Kilns. Saturday’s matches start at 1.30pm.