Bradley West reports on Goatacre Cricket Club’s thrilling season finale. Jif Wilkins, you’re a legend.
Goatacre CC’s winner-takes-all title decider against Cheltenham CC ended with dramatic scenes, as, with his side nine down, the injured Jif Wilkins was carried to the crease before hitting the winning runs that sealed the West of England Premier Two Glos/Wilts title and promotion to West of England Premier One for the first time in the club’s history.
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“He injured himself on a wall in the first innings trying to stop a ball and his knee swelled up to the size of a football,” says Ed. “We were calling the ambulance for him midway through our innings. He couldn’t move but he refused to go anywhere. He said ‘I’m not going anywhere in case it goes down to the wire and I have to bat.’”
“It was a massive game,” says Ed Wilkins, Goatacre captain and brother of the heroic Jif, speaking to AOC. “And for it to end the way it did, you just couldn’t write it really.”
Jif being carried to the wicket yesterday! pic.twitter.com/YywmB3ua4E
— GoatacreCricketClub (@GoatacreCC) September 3, 2017
Goatacre began the day 12 points ahead of their opponents but a loss would have pushed them down to second place and put an end to their promotion bid. And their task was made harder when Jif, usually a top-six batsman, had to leave the field, with his ability to take any further part in doubt.
An unbeaten century from Benny Howell, who also took three wickets, dragged Goatacre to within six runs of their target, but, with the score on 220, they contrived to lose their eighth and ninth wickets, setting the scene for the thrilling conclusion.
“When it came to it, two of our guys had to carry him to the middle as he couldn’t walk out there by himself,” says Ed. “He managed to smash his first ball through the covers for four and then work one through midwicket the next ball which tied the scores and meant we had won the league. The first ball of the next over he managed to smash for four as well. It was unbelievable really. I don’t like to praise him too much as he’s my brother but it was a great effort.”
The denouement, watched nervously by a large contingent of home support, sparked delirious scenes.
“The emotions were running pretty high and we had a big crowd of 200 creating a great atmosphere,” says Ed. “Following the winning moment there was a pitch invasion with players and fans at the end. Now we’re looking forward to playing with the big lads next season.”
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