Ribblesdale Wanderers captain Ian Britcliffe became the first amateur for 88 years to claim 100 wickets in a season in the Ribblesdale Cricket League on Saturday.
Britcliffe, 43, started the match against derby rivals Salesbury at Church Meadow needing two to reach his ton, and ended up claiming three to cap a remarkable season which saw the club win the Ramsbottom Cup at the end of July.
Britcliffe was suitably modest about reaching three figures for the first time since a J. Pollard of Darwen in 1925.
“I’ve just had a lot more opportunity,”said the Wanderers star after helping his side to a nine-wicket victory over the Red Caps.
“With Dave Howard moving to Whalley, and a professional who doesn’t really bowl, I’ve got through more overs than ever before.
“Normally, I might do 120-130 a season, this time I’ve done more than 400.
“And it’s been really tough in the last six weeks.
“My right knee has been very sore and I’ve had to have it strapped up.
“But I knew there was a chance of getting to 100 wickets, so it’s a relief as much as anything.”
Britcliffe, an NHS lead buyer, lives only 50 yards from the home of the new champions Clitheroe’s Chatburn Road ground, but while he briefly turned out across town, he has devoted virtually all his career to Ribblesdale, and he added: “I played one year at Clitheroe when I was 10, and apart from that I’ve been at Ribblesdale ever since.”
On taking the landmark wicket of Ian Rabagliati, the Wanderers stand-in skipper admitted celebrations were relatively muted. But the seasoned amateur admits he’s delighted to have marked his name into the league’s history books.
“Celebrations were quite restrained on the field,” he said. “I got mobbed by all the lads but it was only an hour into the game so at that stage it was all about bowling Salesbury out and winning.
“They went all out in the evening though which I really appreciated. There was cake, fireworks, a few drinks and they’d done a banner. They really looked after me. I’m thrilled to bits with it and it’s a very nice feeling.
“To have your name in the history books is brilliant and ,who knows, that record might stand for a few years now.”