Not even a deluge of biblical proportions could deny Uppingham Town on Saturday as they secured a remarkable third straight promotion with a winning draw at Shepshed Town to finish second in Leicestershire League Division Two.
After the match captain Jamie Dumford reflected on another amazing season for the Rutland club. He said: “The team at the minute is a special one and this is a golden era for the club. We are a young side that is maturing and are getting better year on year but we also we have the experience of Patrick Latham and Mark Cox who are vital around the younger lads.
“We joined the league three years ago and have now made it three promotions in three years which is incredible to play so consistently well for such a long period of time.
“We have strength in depth which has been key to our success. We have lads batting at nine or ten that could easily be a three or four in another side.
“This year has been a real team effort with ten batsman registering at least one 50 and four bowlers talking over 20 wickets.
“I’m looking forward to leading the lads into the unknown next year and they can’t wait to test themselves again next year at a higher level.”
On Town’s arrival at Morley Lane on Saturday it was obvious the areas surrounding the wicket were very wet from overnight rain, and having been asked to bat, Uppingham had barely seen out the first over before the rain returned.
What started as drizzle rapidly turned to a monsoon as for 15 minutes you could barely see the square so heavy was the downpour. Once the rain stopped it was a question of if, and how quickly, the pitch would be playable. In the event, Tom Scott made a rapid trip to the local pet shop to get bags of sawdust and the game was on but 30 overs had been lost reducing the game to 30 overs a side.
On resumption of play, openers Jamie Dumford and Martin Bennett set about the task of securing maximum batting points and the pair raced to a century stand at better than a run-a-ball, Dumford was the first to depart, for 44, with the score at 102.
The quest for quick runs was hampered by the wet wicket and saw a regular trickle of wickets as Mark Cox (13) and Harry Butchart perished before Bennett fell for a fine 61 from 63 balls. Hodson and Ashwin took the score past the 150 and 3 points, and then Hodson and Richardson picked up the fourth point raising the score to 189 with just 11 balls remaining in which to gain the fifth point. Rico blasted Wicks over cover for a maximum, before, in the final over Danny Dumford smashed Montagues straight back and into the batting nets. The shortened innings closed at 211-6 with Richardson unbeaten on 31 from just 18 balls. Dumford needing just 5 balls for his 11.
An asking rate of seven an over was an unlikely proposition for a Shepshed side missing their top run scorer.
Danny Dumford removed both openers in the sixth over, and then ran out Pitts in the next over. At the other end, Alex Ashwin bowled a luckless, opening spell, which on another day would have bagged a hatful of scalps, but not today.
Dumford closed out his eight over stint by bowling Evans to finish with 3-27. Cox 2-16, Colan Bartam 1-11 and Scott Green 1-3 all chipped in with wickets as Uppingham edged towards the win and at 58-8 this was on the cards, but skipper Wicks capped off a fine individual day as he struck a couple of lusty blows to end not out on 17 from 17 balls to add to two catches and a return of 2-38 with the ball. At the other end, Mick Gibson ground his way to 18 not out from 67 balls as Shepshed scrapped together 82-8 from their overs.
Town knew at the outset that 17 points would guarantee their promotion, and in truth, were it not for the rain, they would have taken the remaining Shepshed wickets to claim the maximum 30 points. A fine run of form from the mid-point of the season saw Jamie Dumford’s men win eight of ten games, including victories against both of their closest rivals Sileby and Ibstock. This has been a true team performance from Uppingham under the leadership of Dumford, no fewer than 10 batsmen have registered fifties with four bowlers taking over 25 wickets.
Uppingham’s bowling has been their secret to success all season and at the close of the year Danny Dumford finished the division’s top wicket taker by some way, taking 39 in total for an average of 14.97, which is the third best average of anyone in the top ten.
Second most wickets in the division was Town’s Mark Cox, taking 34 at an remarkably low, and division best average of 10.03.