Safe from relegation and incapable of achieving promotion, Belper Amateurs’ 1st XI closed out a memorable 2014 campaign at the weekend with a trip to Darley Abbey and the visit to the Packhorse Ground of Eckington.
At Darley Abbey, the Amateurs were put in to bat as the home bowlers looked to utilise a green pitch and favourable overhead conditions. Opening bowler Sam Stephens (3-28) did exactly this as he dismissed the prize wicket, Oliver Deeming, for 39.
Fellow lynchpin batsman Steve Dymond also fell for 34, as a vulnerable Amateurs middle order was exposed. John Beard, 33, provided the bulk of the runs in the middle order for the Amateurs. However wickets fell at regular intervals around Beard, as Ryan Hudson (5-35) eventually dismissed the Amateurs for 150 in the 43rd over.
With an under-par total set, Darley Abbey put their trust in their own talismanic batsman, Tim Pickup, to sculpt a run chase from the top of the order. Pickup registered a century in the corresponding fixture, and he again foiled the Amateurs bowler’s efforts on his way to an unbeaten 86, which saw his side home in the 40th over with the loss of just three wickets.
With defeat on Saturday, Amateurs concluded their season at home against Division 5N champions Eckington. At the toss, the champions were asked to bat by Steve Dymond, in a game that was more of a farewell to cricket for the winter months as opposed to a result-driven battle for the players.
Harry Gleadall, 85, got the lion’s share of the runs for the visitors. Supported by Connor Bridgman, 30, Eckington set the Amateurs a more than competitive total of 201-7, with Paul Spencer (2-49) the pick of the Amateurs’ bowling attack.
In reply the Amateurs were bowled out for 162 after 36 overs, with Jack Radford, (4-60), and Wayne Dye, (3-22), overpowering the resistance of Billy Deeming, 36, and Mark Rathbone, 27, to leave the Amateurs with two defeats in their last two games of 2014 cricket, and finishing in fifth position.
However the 2014 cricket season will be remembered for the Amateurs’ success in the Wright Cup Final, as well as the individual successes of two of their players. Oliver Deeming, with 669 runs in the league, has finished the top run scorer in Division 5N for the 2014 season, as well as the top run scorer in the Wright Cup with 391 runs in that competition. In addition, Belper Amateurs’ Paul Spencer in the 2014 season was the most prolific wicket taker in the Derbyshire Country Cricket League with an outstanding 72 wickets.