Division 2 Champions
Victory over The Bourne secures promotion
With the weather forecast to curtail proceedings, the team was anxious to complete the match and secure promotion as champions with a victory on the field of play rather than by dint of an abandoned game guaranteeing a higher final season's average than that of challengers Fernhurst.
With The Bourne winning the toss and electing to bowl on a green wicket which allowed the ball, which was not coming on, to 'nibble', there was additional pressure on the early order to build a solid foundation which is precisely what Tom Williams and Toby Pheasant set out to do with watchful respect for the bowlers. But one nipped back off a length to clip the top of Toby's off stump and Ed Bishop, looking in good form, drove to square cover where an athletic youngster took a wonderful diving catch, the ball just inches above the turf.
Tom and Paul Challinor dropped anchor, pushing singles and picking off the rare loose delivery before a heavy hail shower descending on the ground from the hill end sent players scurrying to roll on the covers. After a delay which reduced the match by eight overs, played resumed with the batsmen determined to press on and increase the scoring rate as anxious spectators with mental calculators speculated on worst case scenarios should the hail or rain return!
Tom played well, picking up the tempo before falling to a catch at regular mid-wicket. Paul was joined by Robin Hudson relishing the challenge and conscious of history in the making. The pair batted with skill and determination running singles and hitting several sixes as the momentum, together with the run-rate, shifted in favour of the home side. When Robin missed a straight ball on the back foot, first Jim Macaulay and then Rhodri Williams chipped in with valuable cameos whilst Paul made sure that Brook used its allotted overs and maximised its total: a very good innings and one which set up the chance of victory.
After another excellent tea prepared by Bronnie, the objectives were to keep a lid on the scoring rate and nip a few out. The former was achieved through accurate spells form Alex Johns, Oli Eccles and Rhodri Williams but the opposition openers were tenacious and determined to keep their wicket in tact. Club Captain, Jon King, coming on at the hill end, masterfully adjusted his pace to frustrate the batsmen now looking to press on and was rewarded with two played-ons from back foot forcing shots. But with only two wickets down, the batting side had laid the foundation for a late onslaught as those nervous spectators with mental calculators continued to speculate on worst case scenarios should the rain return.
Paul Challinor replaced Rhodri at the sightscreen end and, with Jon continuing to take wickets to finish with a Michelle, one to a good catch off the outside edge by Toby Pheasant behind the stumps, pulled off one of the best return catches many had seen at the ground for many years. With the visitors now 6 down and the pessimists starting to dream, Neil Cooper, the team's most loyal and committed member through injury and health this season, replaced Paul and polished off the innings ably abetted first by a catch by Robin Hudson which secured two points and therefore promotion and then a sharp stumping by Toby (described by Tucker Smith on the WhatsApp group as 'a champagne moment') and an equally sharp catch (many thanks to the batsman for walking!) before Tom fittingly plucked a one-handed catch from the air running back in the deep to seal victory!
Presentation of the cup to Tom and shields to the players followed as did a convivial and reminiscing evening at the D&P as the heavens opened.
A remarkable season, perhaps the greatest in the Club's long and distinguished history with everyone in the team contributing to its success, spirit and positive attitude. Five promotions (in the event, all as champions) in five seasons to reach Division 1 alongside other mile stones: the establishment of a strong juniors' section, fielding a Saturday 2s and starting to rebuild the Sunday squad after a number of cricketing retirements, not to mention rebuilding the Club's finances from the deficit left six years ago by those leaving what they wrongly believed to be a sinking ship.
Much to celebrate at the Dinner Dance on Saturday 30 September ( a few tickets still available) after the final league match away to Harting on Saturday 23 September. All very welcome to come and support!
But equally much still to do to secure the robust future health of a remarkable club and to ensure its return to its true position in local cricket. All continuing help and support much needed and appreciated and new supporters so welcome!