CRICKET: Lording it again?
LORD’S centurion Kev Iles admits a return to the home of cricket 22 years after one of his finest hours may prompt him to finally hang up his bat.
Iles, 50, is expected to be part of the Goatacre line-up that takes on Hertfordshire side Reed in the semi final of the Yorkshire Tea Village Cup on Sunday (1pm) – with a final at the sport’s most iconic venue on September 9 up for grabs.
Landscape gardener Iles, who lives just over the boundary fence at the village club, was a member of the Goatacre sides that were victorious in the same competition at Lord’s in 1988 and 1990 – scoring 123 in the second of those victories.
Still a regular first teamer in both the club’s league and cup teams, the veteran concedes reaching a third final would be hard to top.
“I suppose it’s really unexpected after 22 years and I never thought I would still be playing when it happened,’’ said Iles, who will be supported by wife Wendy and daughter Abigail.
“It’s a remarkable record for such a small village club and to be back with a chance of doing it again is incredible.
“We’re playing fantastically well in the league too, but the cup is something a bit special.
“Lord’s is the ultimate prize for any cricketer, like Wembley is for football or Twickenham for rugby.’’
Iles’ longevity – he has played for the club’s teams for 40 years – means he is now playing alongside the sons of some of his teammates in the previous two finals.
He said: “It’s a pleasure to be around the club because there is a real village atmosphere about it.
“We just need to win one more match and if we play well it will take a damn good side to beat us.
“If we do make it back (to Lord’s) that might well be it for me. It would be difficult to beat.’’
Goatacre received a pre-semi-final pep talk from former England star Mark Ramprakash, who visited the club on Tuesday.
Ramprakash said: “The players are in great spirits and I believe they have got the balance right between really looking forward to the match on Sunday, but being focused and not taking the game for granted.”
“I’ve told them not to look too far forward to Lord’s, but to enjoy the challenge of the semi-final.
“If they win, they will find Lord’s even better to play at than they could imagine. It is full of tradition but with the very latest facilities – they will absolutely love it.”
The club are also hoping for a little divine intervention to help them to the final.
The ringing of the bells at St Lawrence Church, Hilmarton, will be dedicated to the club on Sunday morning and the rector, the Rev Alison Way, will also mention Goatacre and their opponents in the prayers.
Club captain Sam Parish said: “The ringing of bells across the country for the Olympics caught the public’s imagination and we are very grateful to St Lawrence’s bell ringing team for their support.”