Newmarket's push for promotion goes down to the final game
Newmarket rediscovered their mojo with bat and ball last weekend – and in doing so have taken the race for promotion down to the last game.
After suffering three defeats in a row, it seemed that the Stampede’s hopes of going up to Division One of the Cambs & Hunts Whiting & Partners League were dwindling fast.
However, Saturday’s 132-run home victory at the expense of visiting Huntingdon & District has reignited the charge at a crucial juncture.
With the top two teams gaining promotion, third-placed Newmarket will sign off for the campaign on Saturday at top-of-the-table Blunham (12.30pm), who are 10 points clear and have a game in hand.
Meanwhile, Newmarket are locked on points with Old Leysians in second, with the Cambridge-based side boasting a superior net run-rate.
Defeat will all but end Newmarket’s chances, but a victory could well open the door, depending on results elsewhere.
Captain Mark Nunn said: “We can’t do any more than what we have done and it’s a credit to the lads that they’ve kept going.
“If we win on Saturday then you’d like to think that it gives us a real good chance.
“There was always going to be hiccups this season. It’s a brand new team and just look at Ipswich Town in the football – they’ve signed a lot of new players and they’ve struggled so far.
“It’s tough to integrate so many players quickly, but all in all I’ve got to be proud and pleased with what we’ve done this season.
“There’s no real pressure on us, but hopefully we can put in one last good performance, enjoy ourselves and then see where that takes us.”
The comprehensive win over Huntingdon & District owed much to the performance of Ziaf Kulasi, who scored 107 runs with the bat as Newmarket racked up a total of 308-8 from their 40 overs.
And the hosts took wickets at regular intervals throughout their successful defence, eventually bowling out the opposition for 176 with Freddie Statham (4-30) the pick of the bowling attack.
Nunn added: “We had to get back to winning ways and we did it really well.
“It was pleasing to see us play so well with the bat and the ball because we’ve struggled in recent weeks.
“And it was also great to see us win so comfortably despite missing Maxford Pipe and James Atkinson – they’re two key players for us.
“The players that came in really stood up and it felt like everyone made a decent contribution.”