12:00PM, Friday 30 July 2021
Stoke Green have been the talk of the Thames Valley Cricket League for the past few weeks, after they knocked out Cambridgeshire side Foxton to reach the semi-finals of the National Village Cup.
Now, Calmore Sports stand in their way of reaching the final of the competition at Lord’s, and Green skipper Sukh Dhillon believes he has the full support of rival league clubs in their bid to make history.
“Everyone is really excited,” said Dhillon. “Everyone I’ve spoken to in the cricket family in the area have been non-stop talking about it. Every club has been talking about the game and saying how they will come to Lord’s to support Stoke Green should we get there.
“We’ve been pretty much the talk of the Thames Valley and all the players are excited. You don’t get to play these games very often, if at all.
“We’re just going to go out there and try to do ourselves justice. There are no expectations and, if we get there or not, it’s been a great run.
“The game this Sunday is a final in itself, because, if we win this the prize of playing at Lord’s would be phenomenal.”
Stoke Green hadn’t won a single national round game before this season’s run to the semi-final. Now they stand just one win away from reaching the final in what’s turning into a historic season for the club. They’ve already lifted the Julian Cup, after defeating Burnham in the T20 final and have a three-point lead over Gerrards Cross in League 1, with six games left to play.
Saturday’s 71-run victory over bottom club Slough 2nds wasn’t a perfect display by any means, but, with Munir-ur Rehman Tanzil top scoring with 62, and Gagan Singh (41) and Dhillon (24) sharing a crucial late stand, they were able to post 216-10 having been in a little difficulty at 130-6 at one stage.
Slough never threatened that total, and Green’s spinners once again proved decisive with Zulfi Butt taking 4-24.
They next visit fourth-placed Falkland on Saturday.
“It was a good win,” said Dhillon. “The wicket was very flat, and it was hard for both teams to bowl on. We got bowled out in 47 overs, but we probably would have declared around then anyway. We were 130-odd for six, so we were struggling a little bit. Gagan (Singh) and myself put on a partnership at the end and got us over the 200 mark which is important when you’re batting first.
“We’ve been at the top for a couple of weeks now. It’s still very tight, with just three points between us and Gerrards Cross. We have some big games coming up in the league but we’re looking forward to the fight of trying to maintain first place.”