Dearne Cricket Club’s indoor heroes have vowed to keep smiling... all the way to ECB Indoor National Club Championship glory at Lord’s!
The Dearne lads booked their place in the championship’s national finals, played at the home of cricket on March 16, last weekend, with victories over Lincolnshire side Cherry Willingham and Sandyford, from Staffordshire.
“We’re delighted,” Andrew Whaley told the Times.
“We never thought we’d get this far when we began this journey, and we’re looking forward to the challenge of winning it.
“The opposition is getting harder every round, without a doubt, but we haven’t really had any games when we’ve been really under pressure.
“But what we have noticed is that the opposition all seem to take it really seriously.
“We see it as a bit of fun, and play with smiles on our faces. We always have, and we always will. We play hard, of course, but not at the expense of playing in the right sporting manner.
“Maybe that attitude has helped us, and it’s been lost a little in modern-day sport... there seems to be a win-at-all-costs attitude, and we don’t subscribe to that.
“We’re just a group of lads doing something we enjoy, so why wouldn’t we enjoy it?”
Dearne progressed to the regional final with victory over Cherry Willingham. Joe Cooper took 2-42, but was then run out without facing a ball in Dearne’s reply.
Nick Dymock and Mark Williams retired on 27 and 28 not out respectively, as Liam Mitchell (13*) and Whaley (7*) closed out the win, with four balls in hand.
In the final against Sandyford, Cooper made up for lost time with 42 not out as Dearne posted 137-5 in their first innings. In Sandyford’s reply, Dearne showed their sporting side by refusing to claim a catch that was given out, and Sandyford were all out 29 runs of their target.
“I went to Lord’s as a supporter, to watch Houghton Main in the 2006 Village Cup final [a four-wicket win over Timsbury],” Whaley added.
“But to go back now, with my gear, as a player, is so much more special.
“One of our lads, Greig Batty, plays for the MCC so he’s graced the hallowed turf outside at Lord’s, and there’s no bigger stage in the world to play cricket.”
“I was trying to explain to my little boy how big this is,” Whaley added.
“And in the end, I told him that every cricketer in the planet wants to play at Lord’s.
“And now we’re going to do it.
“We’ll go there, enjoy the occasion but play our best cricket.
“The trophy isn’t beyond us.”
Whaley revealed that Batty, who scored 39 and 16 in Dearne’s two fixtures, almost had to miss the weekend - as he was on a stag party in Amsterdam!
“Luckily, he sorted some flights back to England in time,” Whaley smiled.
“The only drawback was that it was back to London, so we had to set off from Doncaster at 7am to get to Derby by 1pm, via Stanstead airport!
“It was a bit of hassle, but luckily everything turned out right in the end and we managed to win both our games.”
The Dearne squad will travel to London on Saturday, staying in a hotel paid for by the ECB before their final, against the Midlands representative side.
They will also enjoy an access all areas tour of Lord’s, before attending a function on Sunday afternoon to celebrate their successful campaign.
n Meanwhile Yorkshire, who recently unveiled Barnsley legend Dickie Bird as their new president, are inviting clubs to apply to play in the 2014 Grey Fox Trophy.
The competition, now in its fourth year, is a 30 overs cricket competition between amateur over-50s teams in Yorkshire.
Matches are played throughout the summer, with two semi-finals at Yorkshire’s Headingley headquarters.
The final is played at Yorkshire’s Scarborough outground, and the deadline for entries is next Friday, March 14.
For an entry form, visit www.yorkshirecb.com. Alternatively, call either 01924 374293 or 07885 369600.