Craig Park and Foxton start to find their stride
Five wins from their last five Cambs & Hunts Premier League, Division One matches for the Foxes
As the summer starts warming up, so too are Foxton.
After a disrupted opening to Whiting & Partners Cambs & Hunts Premier League, Division One given the wet weather and an odd number of teams, Foxton are getting into their stride.
Foxton have won their last five matches in a row, and just as the team get going, so too is all-rounder Craig Park.
The 32-year-old, who is in his second year at the Foxes, is already ranked in the division’s top five batsmen, with an average of 134 from his six innings, which has seen him carry his bat four times, including after 106 off 106 balls in the side’s 185-run win over Ramsey on Saturday.
“So far so good,” said Park. “There is always room for improvement, but I have managed to chip in when the team has needed it so I’m happy so far, but hopefully I will continue improving.
“It’s the joy of being an all-rounder that if you fail with the bat then you can try to make up with it with the ball and vice versa.
“When I have been given the opportunity to bowl, I’ve been taking it with both hands and doing as well as I can really.
“I know the Cambridge area well and I know the pitches well, so if I don’t do well with bat and ball then hopefully a bit of experience and knowledge of conditions and game situations can help as well.”
Park has been a feature in the county since 2006 – bar a couple of years away in Kent – having spent seven seasons with Cambridge Granta in the East Anglian Premier League, a route also traversed by his brothers, Sean and Garry.
Park moved to London to work as a youth cricket administrator at Lord’s and so he left Granta, going to play for Linden Park in the Kent League, Division One, which is the equivalent of Whitings One.
And on his return to the area with Foxton, Park has been reunited with former Granta team-mates Jason Coleman, Alex Hooley and Mark Bott, giving them a wealth of Premier League experience but there is a noticeable difference between the two tiers.
“There is a big jump,” he said. “There are obviously quality players in East Anglian Premier League but it’s more about the strength in depth.
“In Division One cricket you’ve got four or five solid players that can turn a game for you, whereas in East Anglian Premier League you’re looking at more like seven or eight players that can turn a game for you.
“It’s more about the strength in depth than certain individuals.
“We have that at Foxton this year. There are quite a few players who have experience at Premier League level, so if Foxton were ever to make the jump up to the Premier League with the recruitment of maybe one or two players, we would actually compete well.”
Two of those players in the ranks that are likely to come into their own as the summer progresses are Sharmal Anderson and Yannick Elliott.
“The quality of our spinners towards the end of the season when the wickets are drier and turning a bit more, I think will be very dangerous to the other teams in the league,” said Park.
“But our two opening bowlers, Steve Smith and Jeff Douglas, have done very well for us up front.
“And Sharmal and Yannick have done very well already.
“When we’ve managed to put in a good bowling performance, it’s been good upf ront but then we’ve managed to squeeze the two spinners and the batsmen in the league have struggled to get any momentum going throughout the innings.”
The lead in the table continues to change hands as teams take turns in sitting out weekends, but Foxton are putting themselves in a position to challenge as the campaign goes on.
“We’re just starting to pick up now, obviously the weather is helping us a lot so we’re getting into a bit of momentum,” said Park.
“The way I see it is we’re only going to get stronger as guys are going to find form with the bat, who haven’t quite chipped in just yet.
“We’ve got a good all-round side so fingers crossed we can continue competing throughout the season and hopefully be somewhere near the top at the end.”
In the victory over Ramsey, Park was joined by Elliot – 103 not out off 90 balls – to put on a 193-run stand for the fourth wicket, seeing Foxton reach 325 for 3.
Ramsey were bowled out for 140 as Douglas took three for 35 and Park and Anderson got two wickets each.
On Sunday, Foxton defeated Stoke Green by four wickets in the fifth round of the National Village Cup.