Big nerves ahead of Cockspur Cup final
Defeat in the Cockspur Cup final on Tuesday might not be so hard to bear this year as both winners and losers in the grand finale between Kibworth and Bromley will walk away from Lord’s with free tickets to Barbados and some treasured memories of playing cricket on the game’s most hallowed stage.
For the first time, both finalists have been invited to play alongside the likes of Mark Ramprakash, Phil Tufnell and Darren Gough in the 30th Fred Rumsey Pro-Am Festival, also sponsored by Cockspur Rum.
Despite this guarantee of a free trip however, both sides are desperate to lift the 2007 Cockspur Cup to prove they are best club side in the UK out of an original entry of 395 contenders.
For Leicestershire side Kibworth, captained by Andy Smith, this will be their second visit to the ‘Home of Cricket’ after they were crowned champions in 2004 with a win over Ockbrook & Borrowash.
Since then, their fortunes have subsided. They were knocked out in the first round in 2005 and the third last year but this summer, despite making a poor start, they are back with a vengeance and are quietly confident of putting in a performance worthy of the one of the most successful club sides in Leicestershire.
“There are seven players in the side who were there last year and this experience will help, especially with the youngsters in the squad,” said wicketkeeper Steve Thompson.
“We are a good club side who can beat anyone on our day. We have a well balanced side with genuine fast bowler in Simon Renshaw, formerly of Hampshire to spearhead our bowling attack. We post good totals and defend them well so we are looking forward to the final.”
Six coach loads of supporters will leave the Leicestershire village on Tuesday morning including a delegation of Women’s Institute members who have hired their own bus plus scores of residents from nearby village Bitteswell who are also upping sticks and heading to London.
Nerves are already starting to play their part and Thompson admits some have become unduly superstitious.
The former Leicestershire and Essex off-spinner and middle order batsman Tim Mason made a first ball duck in 2004 but his side went onto win the trophy.
“He was gutted and would not come back into the dressing room until the match was won but he reckons he won’t mind getting another one if it means us winning again,” Thompson said.
Bromley might also be studying the omens that have governed their pathway to the final since they booked their place at Lord’s by beating St Just in the semi-final, just as they did in 2006. But 12 months ago, they went onto to suffer a defeat at the hands of South Northumberland, a loss they are now determined to avenge.
“They are unbelievably determined to win this time because they all felt they let themselves down badly last year,” said Bromley CC cricket chairman David Barrett.
“We were favourites to win but we did not look it when the game got underway. We were sloppy in the field and I hadn’t seen us bat as badly as that all summer. Everyone is keen to make up for that.”
Bromley have gathered together a heavyweight line up with a host of former county pros continuing to showcase their talents on a weekly basis. Alan Wells (Sussex), Nadeem Shahid (Surrey), Matthew Dennington (Kent) and Tom Mees (Warwickshire) have all appeared for the south London side in 2007 and are expected to play their part at Lord’s.
Captained by James Butterfill, Bromley will be well supported by club members both in and outside of the Lord’s pavilion.
“Because we are so close to London, we are expecting many supporters to come and watch and quite a few of our members are also members of Marylebone Cricket Club so our supporters will be spread all round the ground,” said Barrett.
“We don’t know much about Kibworth but it doesn’t make a big difference who we play. Our guys are really determined. They want something out of it.”
This year’s Cockspur Cup featured 395 clubs across England, Scotland and Wales and was played across 16 groups. As well as a trip to Barbados, winners will pocket the top prize of £6,000 with £3,000 for the runners-up. The final gets underway at 11.00am on Tuesday September 11 at Lord’s.