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Swashbuckling style suits Alex Stafford with Sawston & Babraham in Cambs & Hunts Premier League

Sawston & Babraham all-rounder Alex Stafford. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sawston & Babraham all-rounder Alex Stafford. Picture: Keith Heppell

The wealth of batting talent at Sawston & Babraham this season has allowed Alex Stafford’s expansive game to flourish.

The summer is still in its early stages, but Sawston & Babraham have made a flying start to life in Whiting & Partners Cambs & Hunts Premier League, Division One.

They sit top of the table, and have an embarrassment of riches with strength in depth, and it has been a swashbuckling start to the first few months for Stafford.

He made 106 off 106 balls in the win over Histon, and then hit 104 off 90 balls in the victory over Eaton Socon.

“I’m actually having to work a little bit harder now, but with the bat I’m seeing the ball alright,” said Stafford.

“I’m in at No 4 and I can play with a bit more freedom as, if you look at our batting order, I’m not having to stick around making sure I’m in.

“There is batting all the way down to No 9 and 10 for us so there is a bit of freedom that you can play with.

“At Sawston last year we had a great batting line-up but there were a few holes with people not finding form or whatever.

“To be able to bat around players like Callum Guest and Waqas Hussain, and know that people like James Van De Peer, Dan Heath, Ben Clilverd and Tim Moses are still to come, it’s a pretty impressive batting line-up which gives the freedom.

“It shows the strength in depth of the club and our aspirations of what we want to be doing in the next couple of years.”

Stafford is in his second year at Sawston & Babraham, having joined from Great Shelford, but he started out as a youngster at Cambridge Granta.

In his mid-teens, he played at The Perse School but aged 17 stepped back from cricket for a few years. He picked up his bat again on returning to Cambridge after university, but just socially with friends at the then newly-reformed Grantchester Cricket Club.

“I stopped because I started concentrating a bit more on my rugby and when I went to university I was playing hockey,” he explained.

“I didn’t really focus on anything particularly well and it’s just getting back into it now.

“I think cricket became No 1 when I came back to Grantchester because it was the most enjoyable and I got to play with my mates.

“I also played Cantabs rugby at the same time, but out of all the sports I was probably best at cricket. The rugby was enjoyable until I got a back injury and I had to stop.

“Cricket is where most of my mates are, so it was probably my passion out of all of them.”

From Grantchester, he moved to Girton and was then taken to Great Shelford by Dan Heath.

The friends are partners in First Choice Coaching, but Stafford is also the head of cricket at Culford School, having previously taught at King’s College School and St Faith’s.

“Dan and I own First Choice Coaching and that takes up most of my weekends and holidays,” he said.

“That has evolved a lot over the years, and keeps me honest when I should be resting up over the holidays.

“I just work every day of the week. In the cricket season, I get Saturdays off to play cricket.

“It’s difficult but I’m inherently lazy is how I say it. If I’m not doing something, I will literally do nothing and just sit in front of the TV watching cricket.

“If I have to get up and do some work, that gets me going.”

While Stafford is more than happy to help Heath at Sawston & Babraham as well, the structures at the club have allowed him to concentrate on playing.

“Dan has worked really hard in the off-season as well as Dave Ellis and Marc Pearson as part of the club to get us in the right place, with Callum Guest helping out with that to make sure all the on and off-field stuff is going to get us ready for promotion,” added Stafford.

“It leaves the players to worry about their own game to go and deliver, and at the moment that’s what we’re doing. I would say promotion seems on the cards.”

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