Centurion marches to famous Abu Dhabi win

Worksop’s David Toft was named man-of-the-match for a brilliant all-round performance as his side won the inaugural Yorkshire Premier League final in Abu Dhabi.

Toft, 25, who has starred for Wakefield Thornes all season, scoring more than 1,000 runs, struck a matchwinning century and claimed three wickets in sweltering temperatures of more than 30 degrees in the day-night match against Pudsey St Lawrence.

He smashed 138 off 110 balls, including 14 fours and three sixes, as Wakefield totalled 296 for six from their 50 overs, and then took three for 63 as his side lifted the White Rose Trophy by 39 runs.

“It was an unbelievable experience for us thanks to the Yorkshire Cricket Board and county cricket club,” he said.

“To get there in the first place was a really good achievement for the team.

“Everything was fantastic, from all the excitement leading up to the trip, the journey itself, the hotel, the practice facilities and then the match. It was absolutely magnificent.

“We were there for a week and played a warm-up match (against a local side) before the final. The final was streamed live on the internet, so everyone at home who wasn’t fortunate enough to go could watch.”

The premier league was divided into four sections this summer — Yorkshire League North, Yorkshire League South, North Yorkshire and South Durham League, and the Bradford League.

The four league winners played in semi-finals to reach Abu Dhabi, with Yorkshire League South winners Wakefield winning theirs at Scarborough to set up the final against Bradford League winners Pudsey at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Toft, a sales manager for ClubTurf Cricket Ltd, which sells cricket practice areas and is one of five ECB-approved facility providers, went to the crease at the fall of the first wicket.

“I was fairly nervous and my first ball was a close decision when I survived an lbw appeal. I gradually built my innings and confidence, and then went from strength to strength,” he said. “I knew that if I could get in on the type of pitches over there, which are fairly easy to bat on once you are in, that I should try to cash in and make the highest score possible.

“The way the Premier League has been split into four has been great and made for tight competition through the season.

“We had competitive games from April and then the semi-final and final. It was about the most elite that club cricket can get. Good performances can lead to trials for minor counties cricket, which is exactly what club cricketers are looking for.

“If something comes of it for me, that’s an added success, but it’s something I can’t control. If you keep getting the results the call might hopefully come, but I just control what I can control.”

Toft, who moved to Worksop a couple of years ago, started his cricket career as a youngster at Glossop. He played for Derbyshire CCC juniors and represented the academy.

“I got released because I wasn’t good enough at the time, went to university and then slowly progressed through club cricket, starting at Elworth (Cheshire), where I was at uni,” he said.

He joined Wakefield Thornes around four years ago when he was living in Leeds and has stayed at the club, despite moving to Worksop.