SHRIVENHAM begin their defence of the OCA Airey Cup this Saturday at last year’s fellow finalists Minster Lovell in the pick of the weekend’s draw, writes James Harris.

The two sides were due to play each other in the league last weekend as well, however rain washed out any play.

Shrivenham’s comfortable five-wicket victory in the 2013 final and their impressive record over Minster will give them confidence going into the weekend, however the host’s unbeaten start to the current campaign has led many to believe the holders could crash out of the cup in the first round.

The visitors are lifted by the return of Alex Kill to the side having missed the first month of the season. The batsman who scored more than 700 runs in 2013, including a match winning 118 against Minster Lovell in the league is hoping to start his season in similar fashion: “I’m looking forward to getting back in the middle” he said.

“Fortunately the lads have been scoring plenty so far this season, with everyone contributing, so it would be great to build on their good start.

“Last year’s final pitch did an awful lot for the bowlers, but for this weekend I imagine there will be a bigger emphasis on setting and chasing a big score.”

Despite his return, Shrivenham are without opening bowlers Josh Kirk and Will Snell this Saturday.