Cricket stars Birch and Footitt top the charts

CAPTAIN MARVEL  --  Dan Birch, who topped the run-scoring charts in the Notts Premier League with more than 1,000 runs and five centuries.
CAPTAIN MARVEL -- Dan Birch, who topped the run-scoring charts in the Notts Premier League with more than 1,000 runs and five centuries.

Two players with strong connections to the Dispatch district have been hailed as the cricketing cream that rose to the top during the 2014 season.

For Rolls-Royce Leisure batsman Dan Birch and former Papplewick and Linby bowler Mark Footitt figured prominently when the end-of-season averages and runs and wickets charts were compiled.

Rolls might have struggled to maintain the previous season’s success in the Notts Premier League (NPL). But their captain, the 33-year-old Birch, enjoyed an astonishing campaign.

In 21 innings, he plundered 1,130 runs to finish top of the NPL batting lists. With five centuries and two more fifties to his name, he averaged a superb 62.77, which was also the highest in the league.

Birch, who is the son of John Birch, Rolls’s former chairman, is a tall, big-hitting, aggressive batsman. He rediscovered the form that once persuaded Derbyshire to offer him contracts in first-class cricket.

He played for them between 2007 and 2009, scoring 92 on his County Championship debut against Gloucestershire and making 43 appearances for the county in total.

Derbyshire is where Footitt currently plays -- after an earlier spell with Notts, who spotted him while he was learning his trade as a promising youngster at Papplewick.

As a left-arm fast bowler, he has always oozed potential. Now, as a 28-year-old, he appears to be fulfilling it because his return of 82 wickets in the County Championship this year is the best in the country.

Footitt has caught the eye of the England selectors and has been chosen to go on a fast bowlers’ camp in South Africa this winter as part of the England Performance Programme. Also making the top ten in the NPL charts are Rolls batsman Shaun Levy and spin bowler Matt Roberts.