Cricket: Wiltshire bid for first county championship in 105 years
Wiltshire captain Mike Coles says the county side won’t be playing with the weight of expectation on their shoulders when they bid to become the kings of minor counties cricket.
A season to savour has already seen Wiltshire dramatically clinch the Unicorns Championship Western Division title last month and now they have the chance to cap their summer by becoming national champions for the first time in 105 years.
Wiltshire, who previously won the title in 1902 and 1909, take on Eastern Division winners Staffordshire in the four-day championship final, which gets under way at 10.30am at South Wilts, Salisbury, on Sunday.
With the majority of their club commitments now finished, the county squad will be linking up for one last training session on Saturday and skipper Coles says there won’t be any pressure on his players.
“I don’t think there will be any pressure on us. We’ve never been in this position before and the pressure will all be on Staffordshire because they’re the ones that have won it before,” said Coles.
“From speaking to the guys, I don’t think there’ll be any nerves or anything like that because we just want to enjoy the occasion. I’ve been playing minor counties cricket for 11 years and Shards (Neil Shardlow, team manager) has been involved in it for 25 years.
“This is the first time that either of us have been involved in anything like this and it might only happen to you once in your career.
“This year has been amazing and Wiltshire haven’t been in a position to become national champions for more than 100 years.
This is something that we’ve got to savour and we’ve got to go out there and give 100 per cent for the four days.
“I’m massively proud of what we’ve achieved.
“We’ve only used 15 or 16 players this year and they’ve all played a part in getting us to this final.”
Team boss Shardlow wants his team to approach the game with a sense of freedom. “Our ultimate aim was always to win the Western Division and we achieved that, so this really is a bonus,” he said.
“I think we will be quite relaxed and I don’t expect that I’ll be that nervous.
“But if you ask me that at the end of the third day, maybe the answer would be different.
“Jon Williams, Brian White and everyone at South Wilts have done a fantastic job of getting everything organised in a short space of time and with the forecast looking good, we’re expecting a good crowd down there.
“We’ve got home advantage and we’re going to do everything that we can to win the game.”
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