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Essex League Premier Division: Ilford ready for Hornchurch even if Essex star Ashar Zaidi is absent

PUBLISHED: 13:00 22 June 2017

Spinner Theeban Tavarasa talks up the talented youngster at Valentines Park and urges them to take their first-team chances

Ilford players look on during their innings against Wanstead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).Ilford players look on during their innings against Wanstead (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Ilford may be without Essex’s Ashar Zaidi for Saturday’s Essex League Premier Division home match against Hornchurch and Theeban Tavarasa feels they must find a way of winning when the talented all-rounder is absent.

The Valentines Park club are sixth in the table with 76 points after winning two of their opening six league fixtures.

Zaidi played a key role on both occasions when Ilford tasted success in the division, but if the former Sussex ace is absent on Saturday, Tavarasa is looking for one of the club’s youngsters to grasp their opportunity.

He said: “Hornchurch are very similar to us and mid-table and I have been told they are missing one or two players.

“We might not have Ashar. It depends on Essex, but we need to work out a way of playing without him anyway.

“If Ashar doesn’t play then we might have to get a youngster from the twos, so it will be a good opportunity for someone to come in and do well.

“It is all about getting your chance. When I started playing I was 15 or 16 and 15 years later I am still here playing first-team cricket, so this is how it starts. People need to grab their opportunities.”

Tavarasa is filling in for regular captain Shaz Hafeez at the moment, who is out with a heel problem.

The spinner revealed Ilford are aiming to achieve a top-five finish this season, but is aware they must improve against the best teams.

Ilford’s three Premier Division defeats in 2017 have come to the current top three and on Saturday they host fourth-placed Hornchurch.

After losing by five wickets last weekend to Wanstead, Tavarasa is eager to see his young side learn from their mistakes.

He added: “We have made a decent start to the season and our three losses have been against the top teams in Chelmsford, Brentwood and Wanstead, so it is not too bad.

“Wanstead have a couple of Essex lads playing for them and some good youngsters, but if we want to compete against them, we need to be better.

“Obviously you can’t go too hard on the youngster, but you just need them to learn from these experiences.”

Although Tavarasa was disappointed to lose at Wanstead on Saturday, there were some positives for Ilford to draw from the defeat.

Youngster Hamza Muhammad scored an unbeaten 26 to bounce back following ducks against Brentwood and Colchester.

Kalpesh Chandracant also made the most of his chance to bowl more than previously and took 1-54 from his nine overs at Overton Drive.

Tavarasa added: “This experience is good for the youngsters and Hamza came in at eight and got 26 not out.

“Stuff like that is a positive and allows us to look back when we go home and be happy and Kalpesh bowled pretty well.

“He’s not bowled as much as he would have liked because we have played on a lot of spinning wickets.

“Against Wanstead he did well and all of our youngsters can go away and think about what they could have done better and come back stronger next time.

“The season is only six games old and we have 12 matches to come so if we can go strong over that period you never know what can happen. Our aim is to finish in the top five.”

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