CHAMPIONS! Belper Meadows secure Division Four North honours in style
Belper Meadows have been crowned champions of Division Four North of the Derbyshire County Cricket League after winning comfortably at LangleyMill on Saturday.
Meadows went into the game knowing a win was crucial not only for the title but also promotion, with both Ashover and Allestree able to overtake them had they slipped up.
Ultimately, Meadows romped home by ten wickets and took the title by finishing seven points ahead of Ashover in second, Meadows having gone through the entire season without suffering an outright defeat and in the process securing their second promotion in a row with 2015 also having seen them unbeaten in the league.
Langley Mill won the toss and opted to bat first, but were quickly in trouble as Daniel Kelly had opener Andrew Ball out without scoring and the Millers were 0-1.
That became 9-2 when Rob Borland claimed the first of his six wickets for just 19 runs, Neil Wing caught by Jamie Rowland for 8.
The Langley Mill innings never got going although Nick Wright’s steady 29 at least pushed the score along before he was sixth out with the score on 55, Borland the bowler and Joe Slater taking one of four catches he’d claim during the innings.
Before that, Daniel Pheasant and Peter Brookes had both fallen cheaply and both to Borland, Oliver Blake also Rowland’s only bowling victim with Slater the recipient of the catch once again.
James Harrison was the next Borland wicket as he was caught behind by skipper Chris Whiteley whose alertness led to the stumping of Daniel Lacey to give Nick Mann the first of his two wickets.
Kiegan Wing and Roht Patel’s wickets saw the Millers all out for just 72, Mann and Borland the bowlers.
The target proved little trouble for Meadows to reach and they did so without losing a wicket.
Mann and Slater were the batsmen and hit 37 and 29 not out respectively, Mann hitting the winning runs to make it a successful farewell ahead of his return to Australia this week.
Mann and Slater were both among the top five batsmen in the division, while Borland was Division Four North’s top wicket taker.
Skipper Chris Whiteley said: “The intention at the start of the season was to try and stay up, given we’d been promoted last season, but we soon began to gain some momentum and started to believe we could win it about midway through the season.
“A few players returned to the club and we signed some good young players too so were always looking competitive.
“We haven’t lost a league game for two years now so the mentality was there to keep that going.”
“We got stalled by the weather a couple of weeks ago when we couldn’t play and the teams around us won their games, and we thought we might have blown our chance.
“But results went our way last weekend and then we knew we had to get at least 20 points against Langley Mill to secure the title.
“Even though we haven’t lost a game for so long I think we might have had a few nerves before the game because we didn’t want the streak to come to an end on a day where we could have won the title, but in the end we were able to win comfortably.”
Whiteley added that next season will be an entirely new challenge once again but that Meadows will set their targets as high as they can.
He said: “ The average age of the squad is only 23 at the moment but it’s our policy to try and use young players and we’ll aim to do that again.
“We’ll need to strengthen and would love to go up again next year but as with this year, the first priority will be to settle in the new division and make sure we stay up and then we’ll see how things go.”