05:00PM, Wednesday 28 April 2021
Cookham Dean captain Ben Millar has admitted his expectations for the Thames Valley Division 1 season aren’t terribly high, with the squad likely to be understrength for the first few weeks of the season and a couple of their strongest batsmen currently working in India and unlikely to return to the UK soon.
Dean prioritised the National Village Cup over last season's shortened nine-match league season - which had neither the carrot of promotion or stick of relegation to motivate clubs.
With that in mind, Millar said the focus was on enjoyment rather than achievement this season.
“To be honest with you we’ve got a couple of guys stuck in India and that doesn’t help us,” he said.
“Availability is uncertain for us now with people also having to prioritise other things. Our main aim is to get a team out and to try and enjoy it.
“As we get into the second part of the season, I’m sure we’ll strengthen a bit, but our expectations are not terribly high at the moment. We want to try and enjoy it.”
He added: “Patrick and Fergus are out there for the Indian Premier League.
“They’re two of our leading players, and two of the leaders of the team. There’s nothing they can do about it, but it’s disruptive to our season and it’s why we have to be realistic about what we can achieve this year.”
The Dean skipper also can't wait for restrictions to be further eased so that players can start using cricket pavilions and clubhouses again during matches.
In spite of this Millar added there was genuine enthusiasm and optimism at all levels of the club for the new season thanks to the hard work of the club's committee.
“It will be nice to get back into pavilions,” he said. “It’s not particularly enjoyable on a cold, wet, windy day, being stuck outside. The club got four sides out (for friendlies) this weekend and I don’t think we’ve ever managed to do that before for a friendly. All the stuff that’s going on off the pitch is superb, the work of the committee. Even last year the club was buzzing all the time, there’s a real community feel. I was up there on a random Tuesday morning a couple of weeks ago and there were hundreds of people playing on the outfield. There’s just so much hard work that’s gone in and we’ve just found so many solutions to enable people to keep coming to the club. People are enjoying themselves and spending money at the outside bar and there has just been all sorts of innovative events. It’s a credit to all of the hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes.”
The candidates standing in the upcoming Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner election have outlined their priorities for policing in the region.