Shabbir: There were mitigating factors for Burnham's loss to Gerrards Cross

There were several mitigating factors for Burnham's opening day defeat to Gerrards Cross, according to new skipper Adnan Shabbir, however, he does expect the side to improve as the season goes on and isn't ruling their potential to be in the promotion mix.

The new captain accepts this will be a season of transition and rebuilding following the club's demotion from the Home Counties Cricket League – but he doesn’t not accept that it should also have to be an unsuccessful one.

Their Thames Valley League Division 1 campaign didn’t get off to the brightest of starts, as they were beaten by nine-wickets by Gerrards Cross. However, they’re set to play their first few matches without their overseas pro – Rehamatullah – who is still awaiting his visa to travel over from Afghanistan and link up with the side. Shabbir and some other key players also missed the league curtain raiser and, when all are back to bolster the line-up, he believes Burnham will have a much stronger chance of picking up victories.

In many ways Saturday’s opening game was a frustrating one. Several of the side made promising starts with the bat but none was able to post the kind of total that would trouble Cross – who finished second to Stoke Green last season.

Fahad Raja made 30 to back up 26 from opener Lasan Wijemuni, however, Patrick Smith took 4-49 as they were bowled out for a below par 180. Cross reached their target for the loss of just one wicket in just over 30 overs. Chris Marrow top scored for them with 74 not out, while Edward Snushall (56no) also finished his innings unbeaten.

Reflecting on a disappointing start to what he hopes will be a season of great change and improvement, Shabbir said: “There were a couple of reasons for the defeat on Saturday. One of them was the delay to our overseas pro's visa. We are hoping that can be sorted this week, and some of the other guys – including myself – were also not available. Adnan Malik was the acting captain, and he will be again next weekend at Henley 2nds as I’m also unavailable.

“Relegation is not good for any club. We had some players who left and went elsewhere and we're currently rebuilding, bringing in some young players and trying to restructure everything.

“Even with this I’m very optimistic we'll do well this season once we have everyone back and playing.

“Gerrards Cross are a very good side who have most of the bases covered. They finished second last year but weren't promoted because of ground criteria markers. We made a decent start with the bat and four or five of our players scored 20 plus but none was able to kick on and get the 50-70 we needed to give our bowlers something to look at. A total of 180 was just too easy and Cross’ batting unit is just too good for that.

“Everyone in this league is on their toes and will be going for promotion so it's not going to be easy.”

Shabbir says Rehamatullah, an all-rounder from Afghanistan is ready to fly out as soon as his visa situation is sorted and he's hopeful he might be in the side for Saturday’s trip to Henley 2nds.

Henley got their campaign underway with a 66 win over Cookham Dean.

“They’re a strong team as well and they’ve made a fast start,” he added.

“Hopefully some of our guys will return and we can get that first win of the season. We’re also hoping to have our overseas. His bags are packed and he’s ready to fly out. He’s called Rehamatullah. He’s only got one name. That’s the name on the passport. He’s an Afghan cricketer with good stats playing in their domestic structure.

“We struggled to post decent totals last season and that’s why we’ve gone with someone who can give us that maturity in the middle of the order. He bowls off spin as well and with his experience, we’ll bat around him and hopefully he’ll be our missing link.”

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