My cricket club, Elstow C.C. are champions of Bedfordshire. Indoor champions, but champions nonetheless. I am exceptionally proud of Cousin Tommy and the lads for their achievement. This is another significant landmark in the club’s history and is testament to a great bunch of players and the hard work they’ve put in over the last few years.
Regular readers will be familiar with DWC’s regular guest contributor, The Bury Avenue Bugle. In the last of his winter columns, he reports from the club’s victorious last indoor game of the season.
It was fitting that arguably the two most progressive ‘village cricket clubs’ in Bedfordshire, Blunham and Elstow should play out the final game of the indoor season. Both clubs, have made giant strides in recent years, with emphasis placed on ‘community’, ‘youth’ and ‘facilities’ and at the heartbeat, dedicated lovers of the game ensuring both clubs continue to develop apace to try and emulate the powerhouses of Bedfordshire cricket.
The division was extremely tight; four teams equal on points going into the last round of games, with Elstow leading on net run rate. Many a calculator and abacus had been deployed during the day’s preceding games especially as both Flitwick and Biggleswade Town won handsomely. After much algebraic logarithms, the mathematic equation was simple:
If Elstow win they win the league.
Blunham’s Nick Harding put Elstow’s batsmen under early pressure, keeping Elstow’s opening pair and the all important run rate tied down. Despite the bright start by Blunham’s bowlers, the experienced Dave Riddle soon moved to the retirement score of forty, this in the fifth over. Fellow senior pro Matt Stevens joined Tom Wisson at the crease and Elstow were 65 without loss halfway through. This pair, allied with the profligacy of the Blunham change bowlers, began to speed things up for their side. Wisson’s departure left his team 117-1 with three overs left. Dan Wisson came and went for twelve before the gloveless Phil Johnson joined the irrepressible Stevens who smote a lofted six from the last ball of the innings to finish undefeated on 32. Elstow had to defend 157-2 to win the title.
In Shabz Hussain, Blunham had a man to break Elstow hearts. One of the county’s stand out cricketers and characters, Blunham promoted him to the top of the order to get them off to a flyer. Former County colleague and Elstow captain Tom Wisson took the new ball for his team. Runs came agonisingly through the vacant slip areas and Stu Robson was unlucky with a run out appeal, indeed it was the big North Easterner who was up next. As he has done all season, Robbo turned the screw with the ball and Hussain was run out by Riddle from the last ball of the second over. Blunham were soon 29-2 after three overs, Riddle again the man; his athleticism saw Connor Heaps run out.
Dan Wisson’s sharp catch at short mid on had the opposition 30-3 off the bowling of Johnson. Then Harding, the other danger man, was the third run out victim of the innings courtesy of smart work from Robson, as Blunham, under relentless pressure from the bowlers and fielders began to cave in. Belief was about to become victory.
Elstow’s player of the season, Dave Riddle, accounted for the remaining two wickets, the first a caught and bowled chance and the second, for the sentimentalists, via a stumping from his old mucker, Stevens. Blunham had been soundly thrashed by eighty six runs, the demolition job being completed inside nine overs.
Tom Wisson lifted the trophy aloft to great cheers from the packed gallery. He was quick to laud his players for an outstanding championship winning performance and a terrific last few months. However, the triumphant season was a squad performance, with every person contributing and thanks must be extended to the players that were not playing today but have assisted the club in becoming Champions. Rani Thiarra, Ed Wisson, Rob Tebbutt, Will Wisson, Rob Leddy and of course to our long standing scorer, groundsman, President and all round good egg – Ali Milne. Also to the throngs of supporters present at any game whether 9am sharp or missing their Sunday Roasts (even on a Mothering Sunday!). Your support is hugely appreciated.
As always, though its the players that do the easy bit, it is thanks to the ‘behind the scenes’ hardcore of dedicated volunteers that helps to make Elstow – ‘Elstow’ and give us the platform to develop and grow. Huge indebted thanks to Phil, Ali, H, Ben Wisson, Paul Jackson, Geoff Couling and Will – amongst the growing youth network and support (too many to mention) that makes our club special.
The Blunham Phoenix will rise again but the day belonged to Elstow. Lustily cheered below a packed gallery, little ole Elstow (who dared to dream) had somehow ascended the elite Bedfordshire Indoor League and become champions.
Elstow is now etched alongside Bedford Town, Dunstable, Flitwick and Biggleswade to mention a few, as winners of this league – esteemed company indeed. Tom Wisson lifted the trophy amongst the Elstow faithful after some kind words from the League Chairman.
Next stop…. the nationals…. crumbs!
So that’s settled then. They only win things when I go away for the winter. Better see if I can get to The Ashes in November…