Balancing act for Farmers CC

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CAPTAIN James Perchard admits he has yet to front up to the potential selection woes that could face Farmers CC for the European Challenge League finals.

The Island club made history by becoming the first Jersey outfit to qualify for the continental showpiece with victory in Group B on Saturday, but they look set for an overhaul before they return to Malaga in just 11 days’ time.

The franchise’s Championship Week will feature the top club talent from across Europe but Farmers may have to rely on back-up options, as the four-day event clashes with Jersey’s ICC Cricket World Cup play-off in Namibia.

Annual leave and upcoming school exams are also restricting availability.

‘It’s going to be tight,’ said Perchard, who could lose over half of the squad that won five on the bounce after an opening loss to Danish champions Svanholm.

‘Qualifying for the finals was winning in itself, so we’ll be going there with our heads held high and it will be a great opportunity for our second-team players to step up and show what they can do in the T10 format.

‘All the [ECL] commentators were talking about what a strong group we were playing in – Svanholm had a very good chance of winning the whole thing – so hopefully we will still be able to compete against a couple of the sides who break into finals week.’

Farmers beat Svanholm with just one ball to spare in the group final at the Cartama Oval, with James Smith hitting two boundaries in three balls to reach their target of 86 runs.

‘We learned a lot from that initial defeat,’ Perchard explained. ‘The beauty of the format is you’ve got a chance to come back after starting slowly and we dusted ourselves off.

‘This format is all about momentum so if you’re on the up throughout the week you’ve always got a good chance.’

The Caesareans’ appearance in the play-offs was a doubt in itself on the opening day, as they looked set for back-to-back losses before a late rally against American University of Malta.

‘It’s those kinds of games that turn your week around,’ Perchard added. ‘If that didn’t come off we would have lost two from two and would have been scrambling for a place in the qualifier. That result gave the boys belief that they could win matches, but we did have to play some really good cricket to come out on top at the end of the week. It went down to the wire.’

Discussing the benefits that qualification for the 2023 finals brings, he said: ‘This competition is broadcast all over the world, so it will only help to raise the profile of Jersey cricket and enhance cricket in the Island.’

Defending champions Pak I Care Badalona, from Spain, and English Group A winners Hornchurch are also due to appear at the finals from 20-24 March, plus one team each from Groups C, D, E and F. Fixtures in those divisions take place this week and next.

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