SUKH DHILLON plans to give youth the chance at Stoke Green as the new season got under way with a 67-run home win against Finchampstead 2s on Saturday.

Stoke Green were runners-up to Chesham last year but will adopt a different approach this season, and it is already starting to pay off.

Opener Saqlain Basharat has been with the club since the age of 11 and in the first team aged 14. Now 18, he top-scored with 90 as Stoke beat last year’s Division 2A champions.

Dhillon told the Observer: “Our aim this season is to stay in the league and push the youngsters through, and this is the perfect start.

“If I’m honest, the squad was a lot stronger last year, but if we play to our abilities we have got a good chance to be in the top-half and will reassess later on.

“I think the players are good enough. The average is very young and there’s a lot more to come. They are very talented but it’s a question of whether or not they have enough experience, and that’s for me to find out.

Royal Borough Observer:

PHOTO: Fit-again Saud Ahmed recorded 2-36 from his 10 overs.

“It will be a tough league because other teams would have strengthened and we will see where we are after about three games.”

Looking back on the opening day win, Dhillon said: “It was a great performance and a great team performance more importantly. It was one of the most enjoyable wins as captain purely because everyone chipped in.

“I’m a little bit gutted for Saqlain that it wasn’t a century but it was just fantastic from him because we were three wickets down very early.

“In the past we would have faded very early but we showed guts and determination, and it was a very mature innings from him.

"It is quite weird because we've spent a lot of money on the wicket and it plays so much better, so it' s hard to know what a good score is now.

"In previous seasons it would have been impossible to chase a score like that total down. 320 is almost a par score now whereas 200 used to be.

Royal Borough Observer:

PHOTO: Raja Ifraz Khan came up from the second team and took 3-57 from his 10 overs.

"We made 300 in one warm-up game so the wicket is definitely better.

"I was a little bit nervous because we know Finchampstead have got some very good batsman in their side and we're not up to full strength yet with players missing."

Dhillon continued: "Finchampstead got off to a flyer at 20-odd without loss after three overs, but Saud Ahmed is fit to bowl again and did so out of his skin.

"And Saqlain bowled very well considering he was against two very experienced batsman.

"They put on pressure and the run rate went up to allow the spinners to do what they do best, take wickets in the middle overs.

"Irham Mughal and Raja Ifraz Khan came up from the second team and got seven wickets between them, so it shows our strength in depth and makes selection a headache."

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