'Phenomenal' fielding display helps Stoke Green through to last 16 of Village Cup

Stoke Green’s Gagan Singh

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A ‘phenomenal’ fielding performance helped Stoke Green reach the final 16 of the Voneus Village Cup for the very first time on Sunday.

Sukh Dhillon’s side travelled to Woolpit in Suffolk for their fifth round clash and produced one of the best bowling and fielding displays for years as they bowled out their hosts for just 88 runs, before knocking off the runs for the loss of just three batsmen in reply.

Dhillon says the home side – who are used to regularly scoring 300 plus in their league matches – simply hadn’t come up against a team of quality spinners like Stoke Green in some time.

The wickets were shared around between Gagan Singh (2-22), Zulfi Butt (2-17), Imran Mughal (2-3) and D Malhi (2-8) as Woolpit collapsed from 41-1 to 88 all out. K Parmer top scored in Green’s reply with 37.

“It was one of the most clinical performances in the field I’ve seen for years,” said Dhillon. “Every decision just seemed to go right and there were a couple of very good run outs.

“They’re a very good side so to restrict them to 88 is a phenomenal effort from our bowlers on a fairly good batting track.

“They were 40-odd for one after 10 overs and then our spinners came on and they just crumbled, despite being a good side. Some of the catches we took were phenomenal and there were a couple of good run outs as well. They fielded out of their skins, and everyone seemed to be really up for it.

“It was clear they hadn’t played that standard of spin before.

“They’re used to getting 300 odd on a Saturday quite comfortably, but they said we were the best spin attack they’ve faced. In their 12-team league I think they said there are only three or four decent spinners so it’s not something they’re used to facing.

“But they were a lovely bunch of guys, and we enjoyed the hospitality afterwards for quite a while.”

Stoke Green have been drawn away again in the last 16 of the competition, at West Chitlington & Thakeham near Worthing on July 4. Another longish trip for Dhillon’s side, but, having reached the last 16 for the very first time, they’re now only three wins from playing in the final at Lord’s.

“It’s another away trip, and like us this is the furthest they’ve gone in the competition,” he said. But they’re obviously a good side as they beat the finalists from a few seasons ago to go through and have some good players in and around their set up.

“We’re three games from Lord’s and we’ll try to knock them off one by one.

“At this stage you can start thinking about that, but we’ll be taking every game at a time. It’s fun going to these away grounds, and we’ll be going away every time from now on if we were to make it to the final.”

Green also played very well in Saturday’s league match at Cookham Dean before bad light intervened and the game was abandoned.

Green had declared on 289-4 with Jamie Odell (101) and Saqlain Basharat (110) both scoring centuries, and they had Dean five wickets down with 22 overs to play when play was called to a halt.

“It was hugely frustrating,” said Dhillon. “We got put in on a deck we thought might do a bit, but we played Cookham’s seam attack really well. To score 290 in 49 overs is really good given the rain the outfield had had. We made 48 in the last two overs, so it was a lot of clean hitting towards the end. We had them five wickets down with 22 overs to play, so you’d have thought we’d have got them relatively easily, but we had to go off for bad light.

“It’s frustrating as we had our spinners on at the time, but we’ve got to respect the umpires’ decision.”

He added: “The league is very bunched up at the moment which is exciting. We play teams above us in our next games so it will be interesting to see where we are after that.

“That also completes the first half of the season, after that we’ll know exactly where we are. Jamie Odell bowling again.

“We’re a well-rounded team this year and our league position is justified on our performances.”

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