Spectators watch the action during day one of a First-Class Cricket match in Oxford.

University of Sunderland lost to Silksworth cricket club by 44 runs in a friendly as both sides began preparations for the start of their respective campaigns next week.

Lewis Aiken top scored with 34 for Sunderland, with Ben Sims hitting a respectable knock of 22. Daniel Kirtley and David Nunn both performed well with the ball, going for just 16 runs combined in the 20 over contest.

Silksworth were worthy winners in the end though, with Robbie Jones performing well with both bat and ball and Gary McAvoy doing the same.

Both sides were playing their first outdoor game of the season after a winter full of indoor matches and net sessions.

Sunderland won the toss and surprisingly chose to bowl, with the early season conditions often favouring sides who bat first. Gary Mcavoy and Ian Laverick opened proceedings for Silksworth and quickly made it clear they intended to score, with five boundaries coming from the first 18 balls.

Nunn bowled two overs for just seven runs to steady the run rate while Kirtley and Sachin Patel both took quick wickets for Sunderland, but Silksworth saw the 20 overs out and posted a score of 124.

Aiken and Kirtley opened the batting for Sunderland and started the run chase well. Kirtley was bowled by Jones in the second over, but Aiken and Sims steadied the ship, posting a partnership of 35 with some lovely cultured shots from both men.

But the wickets of both batsmen fell and so did Sunderland’s batting order. Hussain hung around for a while, but the wickets of Jake Smith and David Nunn in the middle order sealed Sunderland’s fate.

Silksworth will start their campaign on April 29 against Peterlee, with another friendly scheduled on Saturday. Sunderland start their outdoor season against rivals Newcastle University 2nds next Wednesday, where they will be keen to get their five-game season off to a flyer.