An exciting new chapter lies ahead in the history of Uppingham Cricket Club after the Rutlanders sealed promotion to cap a meteoric rise through the Leicestershire League ranks.
Town only joined the league five years ago following their move to the Castle Hill ground, but will be plying their trade in the top flight of Leicestershire club cricket next season.
The achievement caps a superb effort both on and off the pitch by Uppingham whose side contains many players who have progressed through the club’s youth set-up.
Skipper Jamie Dumford was delighted for the club after Saturday’s success over table-topping Langtons sealed their promotion to the Premier Division.
He said: “It was an historic day for the club on Saturday gaining promotion to the Prem for the first time in the club’s history.
“We joined the league five years ago after the move to Castle Hill and to achieve four promotions in that time is an incredible achievement, with the majority of the side having come through the youth set up.
“There has been a lot of hard work on and off the field over the last six or seven years to get us to where we are now and everyone at the club is excited for the next chapter and looking forward to that first home game next season in the Prem.”
With the season drawing to a close, Uppingham’s trip to Langtons on Saturday to take on the division leaders had the potential to make or break the Rutlanders’ season.
On a wet, rain affected afternoon, almost as much attention was focused on events at Oakham (hosting Newtown Linford) and Hinckley to see what impact those games were having on the divisional positions.
Having surprisingly chosen to bat first, Langtons were already one down when the players were forced off for the first time.
Only five overs had been played and, as the rain fell, tea was taken and news came through that Hinckley’s game had been abandoned, removing them from the promotion race.
With the game now reduced to 25 overs, Langtons’ wickets fell regularly as Alex Ashwin (2-18) and Danny Dumford (3-25) filleted the top order superbly to put Town in a strong position.
The introduction of Scott Green to the attack offered no respite and as the rain returned he had snared 2-5 and Langtons were in disarray at 62-7.
Happily for Town, the stoppage was short and only a further four overs were lost and, with the knowledge that the match at Oakham had also now been abandoned, Uppingham now knew that a win would seal promotion to the top tier of the league for the first time in their history.
However, what followed in the next four overs threatened to turn the game on its head.
Zakir Patel and Mubarak Patel launched a ferocious assault on Scott Green and Mark Cox to such an extent that Langtons scored 66 runs from those final 24 balls.
Zakir’s 40 runs came from just 17 deliveries and included four sixes, one which went straight into the scorebox.
In amongst the carnage there was one of the more unusual methods of dismissal as Mubarak was adjudged out ‘obstructed the field’ as 62-7 became 128-9 and Uppingham knew they had a chase on their hands.
As has been their trademark this season, Town set about their task in a positive manner from the start.
Skipper Jamie Dumford top scored with 36 (two sixes, four fours) and Ben Farnsworth (16) had raised the opening partnership to 45 in just five overs meaning that Town were well above the rate.
However, when they both fell in successive overs, Martin Bennett and Mark Cox found runs harder to come by as Zakir and Zuber applied the brakes.
Both would fall bowled by Zakir and it was the arrival of Alex Ashwin to the crease that keyed the final push.
Ashwin was dropped off his first two balls faced, however, he would make Langtons pay as he would close unbeaten on 35 (two sixes, two fours).
At the other end it was Jamie Richardson who applied the coup de grace, first effortlessly flicking Zuber over midwicket for six to bring Town to within one run of victory, before cutting the same bowler for the final two runs.
Credit must go to the umpires and the Langtons club/players for getting the game on. It now means that Uppingham sit just four points behind Langtons with one game left.
It is a fabulous achievement for the Rutland club, as just five years after joining the league they have now secured their fourth promotion to the top flight for first time in the club’s history.
Many of the players on the field on Saturday have come through the junior set up and have been there for the whole journey from the depths of the Northants league to where they now sit, ready to take their place at the ‘top table’ of cricket in Leicestershire and Rutland.