Local cricket teams around the borough are preparing for the start of the cricket season in hopes of contesting a full fixture list.
The pandemic caused major interruptions to last season’s cricket schedule which was curtailed in most local leagues.
However, this season is expected to be different with the local leagues planning for a full fixture list.
Before the league season gets underway, local sides are preparing to sharpen their skills in a series of friendly matches.
Wokingham will take two sides to face Bashley away from home this Saturday, before a Sunday XI hosts Wipro Corporate XI at home the following day.
Finchampstead 1st XI begin their first round of friendly fixtures on Saturday with an away trip to Normandy CC, while the second team will also travel to face Normandy the following weekend.
“It’s been a very long winter so the lads are raring to go,” said Finchampstead 1st XI captain James Woodford.
“We’re a relatively new group so we’re looking forward to seeing how we tackle the league this season.
“Having been stuck indoors for months, the whole cricketing community is excited to get back up and running and we are firmly part of that.”
Finchampstead Women’s 1st XI also begin their league season in the Home Counties Women’s Cricket League on Sunday, July 4 with an away visit to Chesham.
Eversley 1st XI host Burbage & Easton Royal CC on Saturday in preparation for their Thames Valley League campaign that begins in May.
The Thames Valley Cricket League is set to commence on Saturday, May 8 for the opening round of fixtures.
Finchampstead 2s and Wokingham 2s begin their campaigns in division 2b with a local derby against each other as Finch host the Oaks.
Meanwhile, Eversley are away at Thatcham Town and Hurst host Binfield.
Crowthorne & Crown Wood 1st XI will play host to Twyford and Ruscombe 1st XI in a friendly fixture on Saturday, April 17. The 1st XI then begin their league campaign in Berkshire Cricket League Premier Division when they host Twyford & Ruscombe 1s on Saturday, May 1.
In the same division, Woodley are away at Welford Park while Farley Hill 1s travel to face Woodcote on the opening round of games.
Crowthorne & Crown Wood 2s and Earley 1st Xi then begin their respective campaigns in Berkshire Cricket League Division 1 on Saturday, May 1.
“Crowthorne and Crown Wood are really looking forward to the start of the 2021 season,” said club captain, Will Avrili
“It’s been a long winter for many reasons but we’ve put up with a lot rain and now we’re ready for that rainbow”
“Last year we saw more players joining the club and even set up a women’s team to cater for growing demand.
“The youth section has also continued to grow with local youngsters keen to get involved with the game, which is great to see.
“It is a testament to the club and the army of volunteers that give up their time to help, that we have been able to grow our numbers even with limited social contact being allowed and the season being shortened.”
“We expect this season to be equally successful with many players that have perhaps taken a season out to be champing at the bit to get back involved in the sport.
“It should be a fantastic season and the excitement at the club is palpable.”
Earley are at home against West Reading 2s, while Crowthorne & Crown Wood 2s are away at Farley Hill 2s. Also in the same division, Woodley 2s host Shinfield 2s on the opening weekend.
Emmbrook and Bearwood kick off the new season on Sunday, April 18 when they take a Sunday friendly XI to face Sandhurst XI.
They then begin their season in the Chilterns and Mid Bucks Division 1 on Saturday, May 1 with an opening day fixture at home against Winchmore Hill CC.
“Everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there and play some cricket,” said Emmbrook and Bearwood 1st XI player Matt Booth.
“There was a real buzz and unity around the club last year in the games we were able to play.
“And when you add in a few of the new additions this year, we’re quietly confident that we can challenge for a title this year.
“We’ve also got the Village Cup, a ladies team and an ever-growing junior section at the club so it’s exciting times for the club going forward.”