Derbyshire to host Club Finals Day

Sunday 4th September 2016
& News
Written by Danny Painter

Four local club teams from different parts of the country will travel to The 3aaa County Ground on Tuesday 6 September for the NatWest Club T20 Finals Day.

Sandiacre Town will be the local favourites. They compete in the Derbyshire Premier League – and they also include three former Derbyshire players in Dan Birch, James Chapman and Oli Saffell.

They play Bramhall, from the Cheshire County League, in the first semi-final at 11.15am.

Then Norfolk faces Kent in the second semi, as Swardeston play Tunbridge Wells – the only one of the quartet who can boast first-class cricket on their home ground.

Swardeston are the only one of the semi-finalists to have been crowned NatWest T20 Club Champions before, in 2010, and have the chance to make club cricket history this season as they have also qualified for the final of the Royal London Club Championship later this month – a remarkable achievement for a club based in a village south of Norwich.

“We’ve come a long way since we started the club in the 70s,” reflected Peter Thomas, the former captain who has now handed the reins to his son, Mark.

“We run four teams now as well as a thriving junior set-up – and the beauty of the success we’re currently having is that half the team came through our youth set-up. Hopefully we’re doing everything right.”

Swardeston also feature the most familiar name among the semi-finalists in Joe Gatting, the former Sussex and Hampshire batsman who is a nephew of Mike. Gatting has moved to Norfolk to coach at Norwich School and in addition to some spectacular performances he is praised by captain Mark Thomas for his off-field role.

“We’ve still got a young team, with five or six people around 21 or under, and Joe’s helped all the youngsters in a coaching role,” said Thomas, a former Norfolk representative. “Having him in the middle order holds everything together for us as well.

“But getting to the finals in two competitions, as well as winning the East Anglian Premier League, has been a real team effort.”

Dan Wheeldon is the Sandiacre captain who made seven List A appearances for the Unicorns in 2011-12, and also played some second team cricket for Yorkshire.

“It’s a great chance for us to play at a county ground, and if we can get to the final I reckon we’ll have plenty of support there on Tuesday night,” he said.

“Technically Sandiacre is in Nottinghamshire but we play in the Derbyshire Premier League so we regard ourselves as the local team – and a few of us have played quite a bit at Derby before, so hopefully that will help.”

Ealing emerged victorious from last year’s Finals Day in Cardiff, beating Exmouth, with Pudsey Congs and Chester Boughton Hall completing the 2015 quartet.

Previous winners

2008 – South Northumberland
2009 – Bournemouth
2010 – Swardeston
2011 – Ealing
2012 – Wimbledon
2013 – Wimbledon
2014 – Chester Boughton Hall
2015 – Ealing

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