Saturday XI versus Burbage & Easton Royal 2nd XI
Burbage 227-9 45 overs
Bears 171-8 45 overs

Burbage & Easton Royal all but secured the Wiltshire League Division 2 title on Saturday, coming from an unpromising position to dispatch the Bears on a glorious late summer’s afternoon at The Glasshouse.

Having initially reduced the visitors to 12-3 thanks to an inspired opening spell from the irrepressible Ross Newman; and then to 32-4 following Paul Wood’s delicious slower ball, Burbage did exceptionally well to ultimately post 227-9 from their 45 overs. In no small part this was down to a fifth wicket partnership of over 100 from Craig Simmons (74) and Garreth Robb (36); with more valuable runs added further down the order from Oliver Lavis (30) and Alby Berridge (27). The aforementioned Newman (4-37) was the clear pick of a bowling unit that toiled away in the oppressive heat; not helped by an unusually lacklustre performance from the fielding Bears.

In truth, the Bear Flat response never really got going, with a slow start compounded by the early loss of key men Mark Gunning and Ashwin Agrawal. Rob Wilson (35) and Ross (21) gave the promotion chasing Bears a brief glimmer of hope, but their dismissals, followed almost immediately by Chris Bence’s departure, left the home side in a hole that not even Jack Mainwaring with a defiant and unbeaten half century could extricate them from: the Bears ending up on 171-8, some 56 runs adrift.

So onto next week and the season’s denouement, with the Bears, Goatacre (who have completed their games) and Swindon NALGO fighting it out for what is effectively the one remaining promotion place. Should the Bears and NALGO, who are playing Burbage (the Bears travel to Biddestone), both win it will come down to who accrues the most bonus points on the day. So just like Mike Holden, it’s tighter than two coats of paint up there…

Next week will also mark Gunners’ (pun intended) last game as captain, the Saturday XI skipper having announced over the weekend that he will be standing down after 10 years at the helm at the end of the season. The club owes a great debt to Mark, not just for the attention to detail and preparedness that has led to unparalleled success and silverware, but perhaps also for its very existence such has been his contribution to player recruitment and retention. MGu has shown boundless enthusiasm and drive in those 10 years, as well as unrivalled commitment and we are all united in thanking him wholeheartedly for his efforts.

So, the king is dead: long live the king, whoever that may be… (coughs – Ross or Jay).