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Kent Cricket League Premier Division leaders Minster beat St Lawrence & Highland Court and Blackheath are next

Minster maintained their healthy lead at the top of the Kent League Premier Division by beating yet another potential title contender on Saturday.

Halfway through the season, the island team have a 26-point lead, having beaten Tunbridge Wells, defending champions Lordswood and highly-favoured St Lawrence & Highland Court in their last three games.

Minster opener Dan Stickels hit 73 in a 134-run partnership with captain David Masters. Picture: Keith Gillard

More: Kent Cricket League Premier Division summary

Chasing a revised target of 199 against St Lawrence, Minster cleared the runs with three overs remaining to secure victory by six wickets.

Captain Dave Masters said: “We beat the top teams, which is really important. Tunbridge Wells weren’t that good but they were a team that could have been good so it was a big win.

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“I told the players that if we win these three games we will put ourselves in a very good position and we did that.

“At the start of the season I would have ripped someone’s hand off to be in this position – even though I told the lads I wanted us to go unbeaten this year! It was probably more wishful thinking than anything else.”

Minster have made some astute signings this summer and the new additions have helped. Opener Dan Stickels impressed again on Saturday with a 73-run opening partnership of 134 with Masters.

Overseas player Quinn Sunde added an unbeaten 36 to see them home. Earlier, James Speer had struggled early on, taking 5-44, including three from legal deliveries as he worked his way up the tail.

“He probably played his worst offensive game this year but he came back and made some really good kill shots,” Masters admitted.

“He has bowled very well in other games, that’s what happens in cricket. One day you can bowl really well and not take any wickets, then another day you don’t bowl so well and take a few. He deserved the wickets he got after bowling very well in the previous weeks.

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“He took a couple of nice wickets at the end with people trying to take him, he took three or four wickets towards the end and that will be good for his confidence – he doesn’t need a lot of confidence anyway because he’s a confident kid.”

Masters has had a relatively established roster this season, which has helped the team greatly. “Last year, we had a few pros who couldn’t be there every week,” Masters said.

“Aron Nijjar has missed a few games this season but not as many as before.

“We brought in Laurie Evans last year and only played her occasionally in the games we played.

“As good as these guys are, and they’ll always be better than ours, sometimes when you’re playing with the same guys every week you actually play with a bit more team spirit and people fight for each other a bit more, which is really good.

“People know their roles on the team and the jobs they need to do, and that puts us one step ahead of most other teams.”

Minster’s weekend opponents St Lawrence made 218 all out in 49.2 overs. The revised target was 199 in 45 overs, which they achieved in 42 overs.

“There was never any trouble and we won much easier than I thought,” the captain said.

“I think we got the best wicket, the wicket was better in the second innings and I don’t think they got enough runs, probably 40 short. It allowed Dan and I to play without having to take risks, which is great for us, we don’t go out there and wreak havoc, so that worked in our favour.

“It was a good team performance for us but I think there is more to come from our team. We played well but we can play better and that is always pleasing.”

James Speer took three wickets on Saturday Picture: Keith Gillard

Minster, who are fourth in the league, will face Blackheath next in the table and Masters is confident his team will not become complacent.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground, I’m not going to let them get complacent in any way,” he said. “If we keep doing the right things, I can’t see many people coming very close to us.”

In the second half of the season, there is a change in the Kent League with pink balls and colourful uniforms, while Minster start the campaign with black kits.

Masters said he planned a good session with the pink balls during training last night (Tuesday), adding: “The balls are a bit different, we don’t know what they’re going to do, in the past the pink balls have come a bit forward and swung at the beginning, then they softened up.

“Changing the tops in the middle of the season is something different, it will be interesting and add a bit of spice. It’s a good change with the coloured outfits too, we chose the black team so if the sun decides to come out in the middle of summer we can get a bit of a scorching!”