Newmarket Cricket Club revelling in promotion achieved during first season since being reformed
It has been a journey packed full of ups and downs, but on Saturday all of it was made worthwhile after Newmarket Cricket Club’s promotion was confirmed.
Reformed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, having been disbanded in 2017, Newmarket had just four players on their books last December.
A squad was duly built and they then proceeded to spend a large chunk of the 2021 Cambs & Hunts Whiting & Partners League Division Two campaign in the top two places, only for a late loss of form to see them drop out.
Another season at that level looked likely, but back-to-back victories – coupled with Blunham’s defeat at Foxton II at the weekend – means the Stampede will be a Division One outfit in 2022.
Captain Mark Nunn said: “We knew starting up a club in a pandemic was going to be a little risky.
“We had no chance to have any winter nets, it was a completely new team and we went into the first game when some of the players hadn’t had a chance to get to know each other.
“We didn’t know how it was going to go. We didn’t know if we’d win the league, finish mid-table or if we’d struggle. A lot of the players didn’t know the opposition and we’d not been to many of the grounds.
“When we lost those games sometimes it came down to fine margins and it didn’t look like it was going to happen, but thankfully we got it done.”
Nunn was particularly proud of how his team responded to their late setbacks, which appeared to have ended their promotion hopes.
Wins over Huntingdon & District and Blunham rounded off the term in positive fashion, with the latter then slipping to a loss on the final day to rubber stamp Newmarket’s elevation.
The skipper added: “I couldn’t ask any more from the players as a captain. They still had that desire and passion to give it everything, even if it looked like we wouldn’t being going up.
“The Huntingdon win gave us some momentum going to Blunham and it felt like they were a bit over confident. They’d arranged a promotion party, but we did well and got the win that proved important.”
In terms of next season’s aspirations, Nunn will soon start to look at putting together a squad that will be competitive at a higher level.
But while he is planning to bring in some fresh faces, the enhancement of facilities at The Severals is also high on the agenda.
The club are keen to install nets to allow for year-round practice, with the proposal set to go before the town council next week.
“We’ll start the plans towards the end of the month but we will be looking to improve the squad to make sure we are competitive in Division One,” said the all-rounder.
“We don’t want to struggle and we want to make sure we make an impact at that level.
“But the nets are crucial for us. I honestly believe we could get 10 or 15 per cent more from each player if we had them.
“They’re all weather, so players can bat and bowl all year round and that would make such a difference.
“It will be hard for us to develop without them. And that’s not just the first team because we want to bring on our juniors and introduce a ladies team, but we can’t without nets.
“You need nets to help players develop their skills and make them more confident about playing the game. It’s vital we get them in place.”
Nunn also wanted to highlight the work of Kevin Poole, Nigel Lomas and the Jockey Club Estate on the playing surface at The Severals, as well as Cheryl Roberts (scorer), Mave van der Werff, Alan Shand and the club’s sponsors for their support throughout the season.
“All of these people have played such a key role in our success,” he added.