St Andrews discover golden summer amidst gloom
The meteorologists may beg to differ but as far as St Andrews are concerned 2012 was a golden summer.
For one of the county's oldest clubs swept away the seasonal gloom on their way to their fourth divisonal title success in 33 years spent in the Norfolk League.
Twelve wins and one agonising last-ball defeat was the happy return for Peter Parsons' team, who bounced back to Division Two, 12 months after being relegated by a whisker on the final day of the season after playing just one out of the final five matches.
Even the weather gods were on the Saints side on Saturday, as a six-wicket victory over Rackheath was wrapped up despite a menacing backdrop of thunder and lightning at the Dussindale Ground.
Pat Foan, in his last game for the club signed off in style with an excellent 33, leaving Nathan Chinman to reach the 110 victory target before spraying the champagne F1 style.
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'It's been a difficult year with too many fixtures lost to bad weather and the general demise in people wishing to play cricket on a Saturday and Sunday. The work completed by both sets of skippers is so much appreciated in what has been a difficult year for cricket generally,' said St Andrews club secretary Gary Knights. 'However this season has shown us to be a happy and sociable club that enjoys playing this great game and it this trait of togetherness and enjoying our cricket that is paramount to our success for this season and also for next season.'
Because of the weather Saints could not play their first match until May 19 but the squad, boosted by the return of free-scoring batsman Louis Bellchamber from Horsford, quickly made up for lost time.
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'Amazingly we only lost five games to the weather and we have also been fortunate to play when others have not been able to. Credit in particular goes to Drayton CC who bowled the final two overs in heavy rain a couple of weeks ago to allow us to achieve our second consecutive 10-wicket win, knocking off the 68 runs required to win in only six overs. What has impressed us this summer has been the commitment of all clubs in the division to ensure their fixtures are fulfilled and to play cricket in its true spirit,' said Knights.
A miserly bowling unit has been a key part of the success with Stuart Warminger well supported by Paul Oxbury, Matt Freestone, Gary Wright, Andy Bailey, Louis Bellchamber and George Carney. Recent recruit Wayne Wright's golden arm produced figures of 14 wickets for 38 runs from 27 overs in just three matches.
Headline acts in the batting department have been Louis Bellchamber, Gary Wright and Nathan Chinman. 'To win the league has been a good result for Peter who has worked tirelessly this year as skipper and also fittingly for the commitment and efforts of all our players,' said Knights.
The weather has put a curse on the Sunday team, skippered by Daniel Bone, with only six out of 19 games played. This side is a mixture of youth and experience, ranging from novices to veteran Fred Rushbrook, still keeping wicket at the age of 74.
'It's been a very frustrating time for Dan and the team, however you cannot fail to notice their enthusiasm and desire to play some cricket before the season ends on September 16 at Bradenham.'
Knights added: 'Norfolk cricket does seem to be at a crossroads at the moment in terms of numbers and we support the Norfolk Cricket Board with their effort to rectify this both in league and friendly games. We have been members of the Friendly Alliance for several years now and certainly feel this is beneficial for us. As well as reducing the strain of arranging fixtures, we are indebted to Alex Evans and the other members who help maintain a strong passion for friendly games within Norfolk cricket.'