Grant Smith will be a significant absentee when Burnham Sports play away to promotion rivals Goresbrook on Saturday.

The middle-order batsman, who has scored almost 4,000 league runs in the past decade, suffered a hamstring injury while fielding in the covers during his team’s four-wicket win over Ingatestone last Saturday – a victory which consolidated top spot for Sports in the T.Rippon Mid-Essex League first division.

On the plus side, though, Burnham will welcome back 19-year-old Fuad Ahmed, who has missed recent matches while studying for exams. Goresbrook, newcomers to the T.Rippon League this year after being prolific in the Shepherd Neame, began this season as hot favourites to win the first division title.

They have gained several commanding victories but ill fortune with the weather, plus a surprise one-wicket defeat against Rankins, means that they are playing catch-up.

“I don’t think anybody would dispute that they are still favourites and I’m sure they will be eager to make a point,” Andy Stephens, of Burnham, said.

“We’ve heard various rumours but must concentrate on our own performances, rather than worry about theirs.

“It will be a good test of exactly where we are and what we are capable of.”

Sports have won five of their six games this term – their one defeat was when badly depleted – and beat Ingatestone without being at their best.