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INTERVIEW: Wokingham CC skipper Stuart Hayter refuses to set any early targets for unbeaten Oaks

Stuart Parsons batting
Stuart Parsons helped the Oaks over the line on Saturday against Shipton (Pics by Steve Smyth)

STUART HAYTER is refusing to put any limits on what Wokingham could achieve this season.

The Oaks have enjoyed a flying start to life back in Home Counties Premier 2, winning two of their opening three games while the other was abandoned due to rain.

The latest success came on Saturday with a 10-wicket thrashing of Shipton-under-Wychwood at Sadler’s End and were it not for a clerical error which saw Wokingham deducted 20 points for fielding an ineligible player in week one, Hayter’s charges would be among the early league leaders.

And the Wokingham skipper admits the jump up from the Thames Valley to the Home Counties competition has been smoother than he feared it may be.

“It’s been a good start,” Hayter told The Wokingham Paper.

James Bird hit three boundaries against Shipton

“It hasn’t been a big, big difference in the leagues. I think it’s closer than we thought it was going to be.

“We’re just going through the first round of games and enjoying playing some new teams that we haven’t played before.

“I haven’t been to Dinton for years so it will be nice to head up there on Saturday and see what those boys are about.

He added: “We’ll probably review that (target) when we get halfway. Honestly, there’s a lot of teams that we don’t know much about.

“I think it’s nice that we feel like we can compete already with what’s there and I think once we get to halfway we’ll have a bit more of an idea about what we want to try and do this year.

“I think we should be looking to compete, definitely, with everyone that we play. But there’s a few unknowns at the moment before we can really put an idea into place.”

The Oaks have largely stuck with the side that earned promoted last season, with seven of those who started on the opening day also playing for the club in 2017.

And one player who has made the seamless transition is young bowler Lewis Sharp, who was the star performer in Saturday’s win against Shipton with figures of 4-13 off 10 overs, to help bowl out the visitors for just 52.

And Hayter says the club were always keen to keep promoting the younger players, resisting any urge to bring in an overseas star.

“We never really wanted to do that,” said the skipper.

“We’ve always been trying to build from within the club and anybody that comes and joins us are expected to take on that philosophy that we have here.

“That’s why I think it’s pleasing that some of the new guys have come straight in and settled down so quickly because we’re a young side, we’re all hungry and we’re there to play cricket.

Bowler Lewis Sharp has stepped up well this season

“We’re not there for anything else.

“I think that’s credit to the club and the direction they’ve gone in over the last couple of years as well.”

He added: “We’ve got a couple of new additions but the challenge really has been the fact that we haven’t played any pre-season cricket.

“The first few weeks have been a strange start to the season for us.

“But I think we feel like we’re up and running now after this week and we look forward to going to Dinton at the weekend.”

With new arrivals such as James Bird and Iain Muirden, plus the impending return of Archie Carter over the summer holidays from his studies at Wellington College, the likes of Jarrett Bobb and Jacob Clark have been forced to settle for a place in the 2nd XI having featured heavily in the first team last year.

But Hayter says he expects them to have a role to play as the season progresses.

“There’s a lot of guys in the 2s that played 1s last year and will I’m sure force their way into the side at some point,” he said.

“We’re in a good place with the numbers that we’ve got at the top end of the club.

“The 2s league is very competitive as well.

“They’re in a league with a lot of first teams now and I think them going up last year was important to keep that gap between the two sides as close as possible.

“They’re going to have some interesting games of cricket this year and I’m sure lots of guys will be putting their hand up to come up to the 1s.”

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