RAF Cricketers Prepare For Return To Action

A trials day at Odiham Cricket Club allowed the Air Force team to take a look at some new talent.

Members of the RAF cricket team have been preparing for the upcoming season with a trials day at Odiham Cricket Club in Hampshire.

The trials day was designed to identify any Air Force personnel who can play at the standard required to break into the Inter Services squad.

The players have their eye on Arundel Castle for the T20 Inter Services Championships in September but are lining up a few high-profile fixtures in the meantime.

The 2020 T20 Inter Services tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic but this year's competition was moved from Lord's Cricket Ground to Arundel.

Putting the tri-service fixtures back on the agenda will give the players renewed focus, according to experienced cricketer Flight Lieutenant Tom Berzins.

He said: "We were actually quite lucky last year.

"Through the summer, we managed to get some fixtures in, but there weren't the Inter Services tournaments arranged.

"It's really going to give us that focus this year to get through the fixtures to work towards defending the development Inter Services title - and working towards it with the senior side as well.

The RAF will be hoping their fielding practice will pay off in the Inter Services matches.

"The more people that we can bring out to RAF cricket or just have excited people involved with the set up, it not only helps to develop the station game and keep that funding going, but also we can continue to develop players and bring everyone through.

"If it does feed up to the top level, then great if people reach their standards wherever that may be.

"As long as they're interested and excited about playing cricket, that's the most important thing."

He also discussed how the age range in the squad provides a good mix of experience.

"We've got a really good middle ground of players in that late-20s age who have kind of been playing for quite some years," he said.

"Hopefully we can hold some of the mantle and the responsibility - and certainly bring through some of the other players as well.

"Hopefully we can coax one or two of the older guys out and try and maintain their skillsets as well."

While the Inter Services fixture will take the main attention, the RAF players are hoping for some tough tests in a rearranged preseason.

Flt Lt Berzins explained: "I know we've got some quite tasty fixtures with county sides or development sides.

"It will really test where we are at but also, everyone develops when you are being challenged.

"I think that the more we can challenge ourselves against these top sides, then we will definitely all be the better for it come those big dates at Arundel."