Ashes winner Simon Jones heaped praise on the combination of Bury St Edmunds and Worlington players that helped to make it a memorable afternoon and evening of cricket at the Victory Ground last Friday evening.
Those 15 cricketers – 11 from Bury and four of a Worlington persuasion – found themselves faced with a Twenty/20 encounter up against a PCA England Masters side that boasted no less than 182 Test appearances between them.
And the men with a vast array of international experience certainly lived up to their billing as they opened the batting.
The first wicket, that of Mal Loye, fell with 75 runs on the board, before the combination of Usman Afzaal and Owais Shah took that tally up to 162.
To the credit of the amateur bowlers, they stuck to their task admirably well, with Sean Cooper impressing thanks to his figures of 3-61, while Mark Nunn’s 1-28 off four overs was impressive and caught the eye of Jones.
Even so, the ex-pros still managed to post 221-6 from their 20 overs. It was a victory target that team Bury/Worlington were never going to breach, yet thanks to some huge hits from Daron Cruickshank and Sean Park, they got much closer than most present would have anticipated.
Of the fearless Cruickshank, Park and Nunn trio, Jones said: “They looked decent – more than decent. Both of the batsmen played nicely and produced some nice shots.
“The lad who opened the bowling (Nunn) was also really good. He had plenty of pace and accuracy about him.”
He continued: “The score we got was always going to be too much, but they had a real go with the bat.
“To be fair, they had some good bowlers as well. They are a good side all round.
“We have played a lot of club teams this year and Bury are one of the better ones for sure. I was impressed all round by them.
“It was a decent wicket, really good facilities and really good day. It would be great to come back some time.”
The event began with a charity auction, although the former England contingent were by no means in a giving mood once they stepped over the boundary rope.
Fours and sixes were dispatched with consummate ease — no truer was this than in the case of Afzaal, who cleared the perimeter fence three times on his way to a top score of 64.
Yet the ex-Nottinghamshire all-rounder’s knock took a back seat once Cruickshank and Park came together at the crease. The latter may have departed for what appeared to be a modest total of 35, but it becomes all the more impressive considering it was achieved off only 11 balls and featured not one but two reverse sweep boundaries.
West Indian Cruickshank, though, continued on to devastating effect until he was eventually stumped by Phil DeFreitas off the bowling of Afzaal for 85 off 54.
His departure ended any chance of a shock victory, with the team eventually falling a highly respectable 24 runs short for the loss of only five wickets.
Man-of-the-Match Cruickshank, who also took two catches, said of the occasion: “It brought the town out and got everybody together.
“People that have probably never watched cricket here, they have come and enjoyed it.
“It was a great buzz being out there and a real fun day for everyone.”
Bury/Worly: B Curran, G Ford, J Sturgeon, S Park, M Nunn, M Whittaker, T Curran, A Marston, S Cooper, T Robotham, D Cruickshank, C Woollard, D Manthorpe, D Hayward, J McKinney
England: A Shahzad, A Tudor, C Silverwood, D Malcolm, M Loye, M Ramprakash, M Patel, O Shah, P DeFreitas, S Jones, U Afzaal