IN-FORM Burnham Sports will be missing several regular faces for their tough T.Rippon Mid-Essex Cricket League first division fixture away to Rettendon on Saturday.
Jamie Hamilton, the captain, is unavailable, and so are the three Whittaker brothers – Joel, Robin and Dominic – plus the club’s imposing South African bowler, Adriaan Hugo.
With Neil Wade and Chris Rich also out, the resources of the seconds, who play at home to Tillingham in division nine, will be severely stretched.
“We’ve got players missing for a variety of reasons and getting out two teams is going to be quite a challenge,” said Neil Saunders, the long-standing secretary of Burnham.
“What’s really frustrating is that the first XI have begun the season with two emphatic back-to-back wins and have momentum, only for half the team to be ripped out for what is usually one of our hardest matches of the season.
“To make matters worse, the second XI will be down to the bare bones for the match against Tillingham.
“Our fixtures with them always have an extra edge, given we are ten minutes away from each other.”
Sports have lost on their previous two visits to Rettendon, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Two years ago they lost by a bad-tempered match there by a single wicket and then, last year, were defeated in a game where rain played a crucial part.
Sports followed up their 180-run demolition of Great Totham with an equally resounding eight-wicket defeat of Bentley seconds last weekend.
Batting first, Bentley crumbled to 95 all out in little more than 25 overs.
Not one of the visiting players managed more than 14.
Robin Whittaker (7-2-19-2) and Fuad Ahmed (8-1-38-1) made early inroads on a sultry day before Hamilton and Joel Whittaker caused mayhem.
Hamilton, an off-spinner, grabbed four for 15 from six overs, with Whittaker claiming three for 17.
A target of under three figures looked straightforward, and Burnham breezed home after losing Rob Layzell and Paul Green, their opening batsmen.
Fuad, batting at number three, made 20 not out but Grant Smith, the number four, was in more of a hurry, thumping nine fours on his way to an undefeated 47.
“Bentley threw in the towel towards the end and we reached our target in 19 overs, so the game was all over by 5pm,” Saunders said.