Worksop College maths teacher Neil Longhurst has just completed his most successful cricketing season ever after helping Cumberland County Cricket Club to win the Minor Counties championship title.
The 30-year-old is an integral part of the side and since joining Cumberland CCC in 2013 his contribution has been considerable, this year helping them win the Minor Counties Eastern Division before taking the top honour.
Although a top order left-handed batsman, it was his medium pace bowling that served him best in the final as Cumberland were crowned Minor Counties champions for only the third time in their 60-year history after a dramatic 10-wicket win in the final against Oxfordshire at Carlisle.
Thanks to a ‘three day pass’ from the headmaster, Neil set off for Edenside and, after scoring 22 runs and taking five wickets, Cumberland were home and dry inside just two days.
“It was fantastic to win it,” said Neil. “We were very, very close last year when we won four and drew two of our six games.
“You have to win the league and it’s quite tricky as you only get to play six games in the league of 10. This year we won five and drew one which got us into the final, which was a real privilege.
“It’s all a bit of a dream come true for me and the highest honour I’ve ever achieved in cricket.
“The headmaster was very kind to grant my request for time off as it could have gone to four days. As it was we’d won it in two which was fantastic for me and I had chance to celebrate with the boys before getting back to work bright and early on the Tuesday morning.”
After skittling Oxfordshire for 85 in their first innings on the first day, spin twins Luke Ryan and Will Beer combined to bowl out Cumberland for 170 in reply, restricting their lead to 85.
But Cumberland had their visitors in even deeper trouble at 13-5 on the second morning, with left-arm spinner Toby Bulcock and Richard Gleeson, a seamer who made his first-class debut for Northamptonshire against the Australians earlier this season, doing the damage.
From that position the visitors did well to avoid an innings defeat, with former Middlesex seamer Chad Keegan counter-attacking for 29 from 16 balls with four fours and two sixes.
But Neil and Chris Hodgson limited the damage to leave Cumberland needing a grand total of five for victory, which they secured in just two balls.
It was Cumberland’s first Championship success since 1999, and followed their triumph in the one-day Trophy competition in 2012, also under the captaincy of the former Durham batsman – and England 12th man – Gary Pratt.
Neil’s talents had been spotted by Cumberland chairman Mike Latham when he was competing in the final of the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy in 2012 and he was approached to see if he wanted to link up with the Cumbrians.
He certainly has a good pedigree. Earlier in his career, Neil represented Yorkshire’s second XI, Durham University, for whom he played two first class games, and MCC Universities.
He won the South Yorkshire Premier League with Sheffield-based Whitley Hall Cricket Club, having spent his formative years playing with Sheffield United CC in the Yorkshire League.
With Cumberland playing at grounds like Carlisle, Kendal, Sedbergh, Barrow and Furness, Neil now gets to play cricket on some of the country’s most picturesque grounds.
“We do play on some lovely, lovely grounds,” he said. “But being Cumbria it does mean we also get the wet and the ironic thing is that two of the games were late starting due to it being September and the heavy dew on the ground.
“But the grounds are very picturesque, especially Sedbergh and Carlisle.”
Now he is looking forward to helping Cumberland try to retain their title next summer with the slightly earlier summer holidays Worksop College enjoys being perfect for him to be able to play in four of the six group games.
To find out more about Worksop College and its sports provision, they will welcome prospective parents and pupils to the College during our Open Month in October.
For further details, please contact the Admissions Registrar on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01909 537155.