Promoted Thorpe Arnold CC target Premier Division return

Thorpe Arnold First XI won 15 and lost just four of their 22 league matches this season EMN-190918-112824002
Thorpe Arnold First XI won 15 and lost just four of their 22 league matches this season EMN-190918-112824002
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Rich Randall wants promotion to be just the start for Thorpe Arnold First XI after guiding them to the County League Division Two title.

Thorpe headed to already-relegated Broomleys on Saturday needing three points from their final game to clinch promotion and a win to take the title.

Both objectives were achieved with a four-wicket win, but the skipper believed his side should not stop there.

“To be fair it’s what we expected when we first got relegated, so for me it’s been a long time coming,” he said.

“We want to be back in the Premier – that’s where we think we should be playing our cricket.

“Our first objective is getting up next year. It will be difficult, but we have the momentum and that will help.

“I think we will go close again. We are a couple of batsmen light at the moment and maybe a bowler, but we are tryign to sign a couple of players.”

Thorpe were playing Premier Division cricket as recently as 2015 before suffering back-to-back relegations and then narrowly avoiding dropping into Division Three the following summer.

Their troubles seemed to be continuing last season when they sat bottom with five defeats and no wins from their first six matches.

But seemingly facing another relegation battle, Thorpe finally turned the corner.

Ten of their next 11 matches were won, a surge which brought them into an unlikely promotion race before finishing the year in fourth.

They carried over the momentum into 2019 as they won their first six matches and remained top for the rest of the campaign.

“We turned the corner halfway through last season and went on a decent run; that was the transformation,” Randall added.

“For some reason we had found it harder to get batsmen out after we dropped down.

“You have to set different fields and change your bowling plans because batsmen aren’t as technically correct as in the Premier.

“We started enjoying cricket again. When you get relegated you almost get used to losing and fall out of love with the game.”

Randall believes greater consistency in selection has been key to their success, particularly having strike bower James Pepperdine available most Saturdays.

Pepperdine and Myles Hickman have taken much of the plaudits for the drive to promotion, both reaching the 50-wicket landmark this season, while the latter has also weighed in with more than 800 runs.

“If the other team are four or five down before your first bowling change it makes a massive difference,” Randall said.

”Seven or eight times this year we have bowled a side out for less than 100.

He added: “Myles was away on Saturday so it was time to show that we can play without him.

“Skid (Mark Carnell) got 50-odd and Joe Anderson opened the bowling and took three wickets so it showed we do have that depth.”

Thorpe will celebrate their season at their presentation evening on Saturday, September 28, at the end of what has been a golden summer for cricket in the town.

Melton Mowbray First XI won Division Three title to join Egerton Park in Division Two next season, while their Second XI were crowned Division Nine East champions.

And promotion for Park’s Second XI to Division Six gave all three Melton clubs something to celebrate.