Burwell bowler Sam Rippington revels in rise up the leagues
Paceman leaves batsmen reeling
Making a step up in standard is often a leap into the unknown.
To coin the old adage, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or throw caution to the wind and take on a new challenge.
Sam Rippington had that stick or twist dilemma during the off-season, and he had no hesitation in making the move into the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League with Burwell, having previously been at Wisbech for five years.
And while the young team may be having some toils, that is certainly not the case for the 23-year-old pace bowler.
He has the fourth most wickets in the division to date, and has the best individual bowling performance in a match, with seven for 48 against Frinton on Sea.
“As a team we’re not doing too great; it’s a good bunch of lads, but the on-field cricket stuff hasn’t gone too well,” said Rippington.
“But personally, it’s gone pretty well. I took the seven for and I think I’ve bowled pretty well all year, but it was quite nice to get some reward eventually in terms of those figures.
“It’s just about trying to be consistent on a regular basis for the boys.
“The standard has been pretty good across the league. There have obviously been a couple of poor teams we’ve played, and we’ve played a couple of really good sides – but that’s the same in every league.
“It’s pretty hard cricket – it’s not as friendly as playing Cambs and Hunts Premier League which is good, I think, because I like playing competitive cricket.
“I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Rippington’s season started in the early throes of spring with Cambridge MCCU in their first-class matches against Nottinghamshire, Lancashire and Middlesex.
And it began with aplomb thanks to a five-wicket haul against Middlesex that earned him the chance to train and play a match for Nottinghamshire seconds.
Rippington has subsequently gone on to represent the Combined Universities, an amalgamation of the MCCU set-ups that play in the second XI competition, but he admits that hopes of a first-class cricket career have probably passed him by.
“It’s a massive stage as if you take wickets you get looked at, or if you score runs you get looked at, so it’s a huge opportunity for you to perform,” he said.
“In terms of aspirations I just want to enjoy my cricket, that’s the main thing for me. If I stop enjoying it, I won’t do it.
“I just want to keep going and working hard at it. I’m 23 now so the whole dream of being a professional cricketer is probably not there.
“But I just want to be the best I can be, in terms of being a really good club cricketer and hopefully carry on my Minor Counties cricket with Cambridgeshire.”
Rippington is in his first year studying sports coaching at Anglia Ruskin University – he was previously a greenkeeper at St Ives Golf Club – and his choice of subject was borne through two years playing and coaching cricket in New Zealand.
“I did two winters in Auckland playing for Grafton United Cricket Club so they were massive for me,” said Rippington.
“It was a big influence on me trying to grow up and be an independent bloke, not just in cricket but in life. It was a really good experience and I would recommend it to any cricketer that wants to go anywhere.
“They were brilliant experiences and improved me as a cricketer.”
He may still be a student and only 23, but Rippington is one of the older guard at Burwell, and he believes that bodes well for the future.
“It says something for the club if we can stay together and move forward together, and I think that’s a huge thing,” he said.
“The fact that we’re competing in the league with an average age of about 20 or 21 is massive.
“We just need to be able to learn from the mistakes in terms of trying to bowl wicket balls every ball. We need to be more consistent, not go for shots that aren’t necessarily there and just bat a bit more time.
“We’re so young, there’s plenty more to give and huge potential in the team to go forward.
“It’s quite nice that we’re all so young, enthusiastic and want to play the game. We all just dig in together and we know it’s tough because it’s a competitive league.
“As a club, we’ve had some really good points as Tom Jagot has played really well, and got some massive scores, and there have been a few other 50s and 80s and a few four-wicket hauls, but it’s just about trying to do it as a team.
“We seem to get batting or fielding right, and the bowling not going so well. Or we get the bowling right, and the batting collapses.
“It’s trying to get that balance because when everything works at the same time, we will be a good team to easily compete in the league.”
But he is looking forward to when the limited overs get going again in August, and is tipping Burwell to produce a number of good results.
“In the second half of the season, we have the rest of the one-day games coming up which is more of our forte this year in terms of the fact that we’ve got more of a chance in the one-day competition,” said Rippington.
“The one-day side of the game is definitely more us.
“We’ve still got five or six of those to go which could have a huge impact on where we finish in the league because we went pretty well in them earlier in the season.”
Rippington was among the wickets again at the weekend, but it was another defeat for Burwell.
Captain Joe Tetley scored 79 not out against leaders Sudbury as they were dismissed for 185. Tom Huggins took six for 34.
Sudbury got to their target with a wicket to spare though, reaching 186 for 9 thanks to 69 not out off 35 balls from Dustin Melton.
Rippington finished with four for 73, while Josh Arksey returned figures of three for 29.