A sparkling innings helped to ensure Eaton Socon clinched the Tucker Gardner League Division Two title in stunning style on Saturday.
Overseas ace Mickey Hay clubbed a mighty 170 off just 128 balls as the runaway table-toppers sealed the crown with three games to spare thanks to a 116 run triumph over Weston Colville.
And captain Terry Day is already relishing the prospect of a first season at Division One level for his ambitious club.
Day said: “The summer has gone better than anyone dared to imagine – it has to be the best season the club has ever had.
“I certainly didn’t think we would be crowned champions by the end of August after losing our first game of the season.
“But the response to that loss against Kimbolton was fantastic and we have played some brilliant cricket ever since.
“We can’t wait to try our luck in Division One. We may well need to strengthen to be able to challenge the top teams at that level, but the first goal will simply be to establish ourselves and I feel we can do that comfortably.”
Hay made the most of an early reprieve on Saturday to hit the club’s biggest individual score of the season.
The South African was dropped on 20 before putting together a monster knock which, along with a fine 64 from Matt Taylor, allowed Eaton Socon to declare on 258-5.
An unlikely hero then emerged with the ball as they skittled the visitors for 142. Left-armer Chris Dickerson marked his first appearance at first-team level for five years with a five-wicket haul.
Day added: “We can just enjoy the final three games of the season now, but that doesn’t mean we will be taking it easy.”
Eaton Socon 2nds are still aiming to make it a title double as they remain in the thick of the Hunts League Division Two championship race while the club have enjoyed a summer of fine success at junior level.
But there has been one blot on the copybook . . . a relegation from Division One of the Rutland League although Day is not too disappointed.
“We haven’t got the players to compete at that level on a Sunday anymore and we’re not at all surprised to be going down,” he continued. “We’re going to have a long, hard think about whether to pull out and move into the Bedfordshire League instead.”
It’s anyone’s guess who will follow Eaton Socon up from Tucker Gardner League Division Two . . .
Eaton Socon could hardly have scooped the title in more convincing fashion after powering almost 100 points clear of their rivals, but the battle to follow them up into Division One next season continues to rage.
A gaggle of five promotion-chasing sides are covered by just 13 points with three rounds of fixtures remaining.
St Ives are the latest team to occupy the all-important second spot after overseas star Benji Thomas inspired a 69-run success at Newborough.
Thomas hit 104 and received strong support from Richard Greiller (67) as the locals made 199-4 before polishing off their hosts for 130 with Kevin Sequenza claiming four victims.
St Ives now have a four-point cushion over Fordham with Huntingdon & District lurking a further four points back in fourth position in the standings.
Those two teams tripped each other up when battling out a Saturday draw which featured a fine all-round display from Nikhil Kumpukkal who followed up figures of 5-50 with a top-scoring 57.
Tail-enders Graham Caddy and Freddie Khan had to stand strong to ensure Huntingdon & District survived on 187-9 in pursuit of Fordham’s 198.
Fifth-placed Kimbolton maintained their promotion hopes by seeing off Cambridge NCI by six wickets, while sixth-placed Blunham are also still challenging.
TUCKER GARDNER LEAGUE
KETTON lost to GODMANCHESTER by 6 wkts
Ketton 128 (K. Adhav 5-20, T. Aziz 3-10).
Godmanchester 133-4 (M. Pateman 55).
RAMSEY beat NASSINGTON by 2 wkts
WARESLEY beat WARBOYS by 5 wkts
Warboys 245-7 (M. Duncan 106no, J. Trafford 35, L. Gaynor 32, M. Cooksey 30no, J. Colebrook 3-60).
Waresley 247-5 (T. Griffiths 84, I. Donald 56, R. Craze 31no, C. Whitfield 3-42).
EATON SOCON beat WESTON COLVILLE by 116 runs
Eaton Socon 258-5 dec (M. Hay 170, M. Taylor 64).
Weston Colville 142 (C. Dickerson 5-32).
FORDHAM drew with HUNTINGDON & DISTRICT
Fordham 198 (N. Kumpukkal 5-50).
Huntingdon & District 187-9 (N. Kumpukkal 57, A. Wright 49).
KIMBOLTON beat CAMBRIDGE NCI by 6 wkts
Cambridge NCI 194-7.
NEWBOROUGH lost to ST IVES by 69 runs
St Ives 199-4 (B. Thomas 104, R. Greiller 67).
Newborough 130 (K. Sequenza 4-37).