MATLOCK Cricket Club will be hoping to lift the Marston’s Smooth Trophy at the third time of asking when they play Alfreton in the final on Bank Holiday Monday (August 27) at Quarndon CC (11.30am start).
The 50-overs-a-side encounter features two sides who are both gunning for promotion from the Division One of the Derbyshire County League to the Derbyshire Premier League.
Matlock skipper Steve Pell believes the game will be an even one, between two teams enjoying good form of late, and both full of confidence.
“I’m not sure there’s any strong favourite. The two sides are strong teams in good form and both going for promotion to the Premier League so it’s 50-50 really and that should make for a cracking game.”
Both sides boast an overseas all-rounder who has made a dramatic impact on the league this season.
For Matlock, that’s South African Devon Conway, for Alfreton it’s Pakistani player Bilawal Bhatti.
“When we played them first time around in the league, we lost and it was a real battle between the two overseas players.
“Dev got 123 out of around 190 but we still lost because Bilawal Bhatti took six wickets.
“By his own high standards, Dev is probably due a few because it’s something like five or six weeks since his last ton and he’s already got six centuries this season, that’s how good he is.
“Devon is probably the best batsman I’ve played with in all my time in the Derbyshire leagues and Bilawal Bhatti is arguably the best opposition bowler I’ve seen during that period so it could be quite a contest.
“But it’s not all about one man per side. We are both good teams and I feel we’ve got some real depth to this squad.
“Apart from a blip against Elvaston, if you go back to the first time we played Alfreton, ever since then we’ve been on a superb run of form, and so have they.
“Matt Cluer is in very good form with the bat and Peter Camm, Devon Conway, Chris Fletcher and Ed Lander are in similarly good form with the ball.
“Pete’s got the pace, Dev’s a good spinner and with Fletcher and Lander, you’ve got line and length, bowling in good areas and a bit of swing, so there’s good variety there.”
Looking back to previous Marston’s Smooth Trophy final appearances, Steve Pell reflected: “We’re no strangers to getting to the final but we’ve certainly been strangers to winning it, so we hope to put that right this time.
“We played Ticknall a few years and lost and they went on to get promoted to Premier League.
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“Then last year we lost to Swarkestone and they got promoted and so we hope to win it at the third of asking.”
He concluded: “It’s a good set-up at Quarndon so we hope to get plenty of people coming down on the Bank Holiday Monday to support us and hopefully see us win.
“These finals have been cracking games in the past so we hope for an exciting game again.”