A sluggish spell for batsmen

Middlewich became the first team from mid Cheshire to post a total above 200 this season when they hosted Prestbury.

After four weeks of a new season, admittedly with one of those washed out by the rain, that's a striking statistic.

Stephen Parry (68no) and Luke Houghton (61) shared in a sixth-wicket stand worth 108 runs that changed the course of that Cheshire League Division Two fixture after the latter arrived at the crease with the score at 54-5.

Conditions have perhaps favoured bowlers to date, but it’s a trend worth keeping an eye on.

Encouraging signs from overseas signings

No matter how skilled they are, new arrivals from overseas need time to settle in England.

There is reason to be optimistic; Brayden Tracey (Barnton) and Matthew De Villiers (Oakmere) have both passed 50 already in the Cheshire League, while Austin Smith (Kingsley) took five wickets in a victory at North Cheshire last weekend.

In the Cheshire County League, openers Nick Ward (Oulton Park) and Matthew Nicholls (Davenham) are adjusting to a higher level.

There numbers in a month’s time are certain to show improvement.

Oulton Park’s lop-sided start

A side featuring a number of new faces can be forgiven an inconsistent opening month.

The men from Little Budworth have probably felt every conceivable emotion already and prop up the table after three defeats.

They have struggled unexpectedly at the crease, succumbing for 82 against Nantwich last weekend after folding for 67 seven days earlier against Cheadle.

For balance, those opponents are the reigning champions and early leaders respectively.

Conversely there has been plenty to be encouraged by in the field with Andrew Dufty and James Plant, winter recruits from Northwich, among the wickets.

Northwich’s fears are being realised

A sequence of three defeats, along with an early exit from the Cheshire Shield against lower-ranked opponents, is enough evidence already the men from Moss Farm are up against it.

They have been bowled out for 32 and 27 in the two ames on home turf, and must improve quickly at the crease to become competitive.

A side shorn of its captain and leading wicket-taker last season was always likely to find 2019 a challenge, while Mark Walker’s retirement has left them without precious county league nous.

It remains early, but the signs are ominous.

Cheshire League top-flight is fierce

A battle to step up to the county league from the Cheshire League’s top-flight looks likely to be a hard-fought one.

Only two teams, Lymm and Port Sunlight have yet to register a victory and neither of them are in the table’s relegation zone.

Instead Oakmere, newly-promoted from Division Two, and Weaverham – demoted in each of the past two seasons – occupy the bottom two places after the first month.

Neither should be worried just yet though.

Kevin Douglas scored 78 for the Russets last weekend, and may have to do more heavy lifting at the crease, while Oakmere have been competitive since an opening-day defeat.

How are Hartford shaping up?

After considering their future at the end of last season, cricketers at Grange Park have enjoyed a positive start to 2019.

They pushed Winnington Park’s seconds in their opening game, during which Martin Pickup scored a half-century, before brushing aside Europa Exiles.

A washout at North East Cheshire seconds, coupled with Glazebury seconds conceding last weekend’s Division C North/South fixture, means their campaign has involved a little bit of everything.

Captain Mathew Stokes has had a full complement for both completed games to date too.