Mark Hodgson says his Oundle team are full of confidence as they prepare to be part of the biggest game of NCL Premier Division season so far this weekend.
And why shouldn’t they be? It’s been a superb start to the campaign for the men from Milton Road, which is the venue for Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash with Rushton.
Oundle will start the day at the summit, 11 points clear of their nearest rivals with Peterborough a further 11 adrift in third place.
While Rushton were taking the larger share of the points from their draw with Peterborough last weekend, a Bashrat Hussain-inspired Oundle were strengthening their grip on top spot with seven-wicket success over Stony Stratford.
Now an opportunity arrives for the leaders to pull further clear and captain Hodgson insists there is a relaxed feeling within the Oundle dressing-room.
“It’s been a fantastic start for us, everyone is enjoying it and everyone seems very relaxed,” he said.
“I think it is a lot more open than it has been in previous years, any team is capable of beating anyone and you have seen that in the results so far.
“It’s first versus second this weekend so it’s going to be a big game.
“Rushton have a core of very good players but we are playing with confidence, it should be a good game for the neutral.
“We have spoken about it amongst ourselves and we have done a good job of getting to the top early in the season but we know the other teams are out to get us now.
“The good thing for us is that a lot of different people have stepped up.
“Our spinners have contributed as much as our strike bowlers and different players have contributed with the bat.”
Any team’s cause will always be helped when a bowler is in the sort of form Hussain is at the present time.
It was pretty much a one-man show at Milton Road last weekend as he returned incredible figures of 12.5-4-36-9 to rip through the Stony order and help bowl them out for just 86.
A routine run chase, finished off by Peter Foster (33no) followed and Hodgson paid tribute to Hussain for his stunning contribution.
The skipper added: “I think he was trying to prove a point because he took four wickets the week before and I took him off and I don’t think he was overly happy about that!
“He just really showed his experience last weekend.
“The ball wasn’t moving around that much and he just said he was wicket-to-wicket and that experience paid off because four of his wickets were LBW and four were bowled.
“It was a brilliant spell of bowling from him.”