NCL PREVIEW: Hard work starts now for in-form Old Northamptonians

JOY AND PAIN - Rushden's players celebrate a wicket in their win over Horton House last weekend (Picture: Dave Ikin)
JOY AND PAIN - Rushden's players celebrate a wicket in their win over Horton House last weekend (Picture: Dave Ikin)

Old Northamptonians skipper George Arblaster has warned his players that the hard work starts now after their slick start to the season.

ONs have won three of their opening four matches, with the failure to take the final wicket against Oundle the only blot on the copybook.

However, the fixtures have been kind to the Billing Road side, as they have so far avoided the league’s traditional title challengers.

And with the likes of Saints, Finedon Dolben and Peterborough to come next month, Arblaster knows his men must keep their good start going against Stony Stratford on Saturday.

“We’ve very much got our feet on the ground,” said the captain.

“We would be disappointed if we hadn’t had the kind of start we’ve had with the fixtures we were given.

“We’ve had a really good start and we should really have been four from four because we should have taken that final wicket against Oundle.

“I am pleased with the way we’ve begun but we know that the hard work will start now.”

ONs were four-wicket winners at Brixworth last weekend with 18-year-old bowler Tom Heathfield taking four for 36.

Arblaster has been pleased with the youngster and fellow teenage talent Dan Waite, who is 17 years old.

And the skipper said: “Tom bowled particularly well last weekend and he’s a really good player.

“He’s got a nice, easy bowling action and he swings it both ways.

“He’s got all the credentials and if he gets a bit stronger he will be a really important player for the club.

“Dan is another good bowler who hurries batsmen with his pace and it’s nice to have those lads in the team.”

ONs will have influential batsmen Richard Kaufman back in the side for this weekend’s home game against Stony Stratford.

“On his day Richard is one of the best bastmen in the league,” said Arblaster.

“It’s massive to have him back and we’re really looking forward to the game.

“Stony can always pull a result out of the bag and they’ve got a lot of good players so we can’t afford to take them lightly.”

Allen’s in seventh heaven at Obelisk

Having taken 29 wickets last season, Obelisk IIs ace Ben Allen is already more than halfway to that total this time round.

A stunning 15 wickets in three NCL Division 12 games is already making this a campaign to remember for the medium pace bowler.

Fresh from taking a stunning seven wickets for the loss of just four wickets in the second game of the season, against S&L Corby, Allen claimed seven for seven last Saturday.

That helped secure a convincing success against Overstone Park IVs, who were bowled out for just 54 in reply to Obelisk’s 164.

And the modest Allen said: “I’m bowling quite well. The team we played a couple of weeks ago were struggling for a side so I just focused on bowling at the stumps.

“It was all a little bit unexpected.

“Last week was more impressive because they’re a good side and we’ve lost to them in the past.”

At the age of just 25, Allen is an Obelisk stalwart.

He is now in his 10th season at the club and, so far, he can’t remember a better one.

“The past two weeks have been my best figures,” he said. “I hadn’t taken six wickets before a couple of weeks ago and now I’ve got seven in each of the past two weeks.

“I’m quite chuffed with it all to be honest.”

But Allen’s heroics are costing him dear in the club bar.

He explained: “You buy a jug of beer if you get five wickets so it’s cost me quite a bit over the past two weeks.

“But I don’t mind about that. I’m just glad that the team is winning.”

Obelisk have won two of their first three games, bouncing back from the 110-run opening-day defeat to Thrapston IIIs.

And Allen is desperate for his team to maintain their momentum as they bid to finish in one of three promotion places.

“We are hoping for promotion,” said the skipper. “The past few years we’ve been finishing around the bottom three and we’ve just not had the side we’d like.

“We’ve got a couple of new players in the first team so we’ve taken a couple of their fringe men, which has helped us.

“Hopefully we can challenge for the top three this season.”

And if Allen can keep his own hot streak going, Obelisk should have every chance.

However, is there a chance the second team could lose their star bowler to the firsts, who currently play in division six.

“I’m the second team captain and the first team is quite strong at the moment,” said Allen. “They’ve been promoted three years running and at the moment I’m staying where I am.

“If things carry on how they have been I could look to move up.

“I have played for the firsts quite a few times over the years and I know I can perform at that level.

“But we didn’t have many options for the second team captaincy last season and this is my second season now.”