Matt Journeaux reckons the opening month of the season will have a big bearing on how Sarisbury Athletic will fare in Southern League division one this season.
Sarisbury host Old Tauntonians & Romsey at Allotment Road tomorrow aiming to chalk up a second consecutive win.
Journeaux’s side got off the mark with a thumping nine-wicket success over Hook & Newnham Basics and he wants to see them push on.
‘Our emphatic win over a team that finished second last season was a great boost to our morale,’ he said.
‘It was an important result for us after losing on the opening day.
‘A number of our players are new to this level and finding their feet.
‘The early signs are our league is going to be very tight with no-one running away with it.
‘These early weeks are important and if we can get a little run going then we will be able to stay in the top group.
‘Winning the close games will make the difference.
‘If we can come through the first month relatively unscathed then we can look to build on it.’
Sarisbury have been encouraged by the form of Basil Akram, who has carried on from his excellent performances for the Loughborough MCC side at the start of the summer.
Akram notched up two centuries against Kent and Surrey along with another 80-plus runs against Leicestershire.
The London born all-rounder was on Hampshire’s books last season, mainly as a bowler, on a development contract but suffered from injuries.
He is slowly working his way back to fitness and is still keen to earn himself a professional contract somewhere.
In the meantime, he is playing for Sarisbury at the weekends and Journeaux believes he has an important part to play as they look to rebuild with a young side.
‘It is good to have someone with his ability and experience around for the younger players,’ said Journeaux.
Akram has already shown his ability in the opening two games of the season.
In the opening-day defeat at Basingstoke & North Hants he took three wickets for 44 runs in his 10 overs.
Against Hook, he took two wickets for 22 runs as the visitors were bowled out for 181 runs.
Then he showed his devastating power with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 109 runs in 97 balls to see his side home to an easy win.
Journeaux said: ‘It was a classic opener’s innings.
‘For the first 20 overs he was very careful but once he reached his fifty he let loose.
‘He got his next fifty in about 20 balls and by the end he was having a bit of fun with some massive hits.’
Sarisbury are boosted by the return of regular opener Ricky Rawlings to the side, though he may be used in the middle order.