The influence of one of the most enduring legacies in Hucknall cricket got England to within a whisker of the ICC Under-19s World Cup final this week.
England’s captain Will Rhodes is the great-grandson of Cecil Rhodes, who was the mainstay of Hucknall Cricket Club for many years, dating back to the 1920s.
And the 19-year-old Will guided his side to the semi-finals of the global tournament, being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), before they suffered an agonisingly narrow defeat against Pakistan.
All-rounder Will, who is on the books at Yorkshire, played a captain’s innings in Monday’s thrilling match at Dubai, firing 76 not out from 79 balls, including a massive six.
His knock helped England recover from 119 for six to post 204 for seven from their allotted 50 overs.
And when Pakistan limped to 142 for seven in reply, Will’s troops looked set for a famous victory and their first final since lifting the trophy in 1998.
Sadly, their opponents rallied and an unbroken stand of 63 for the eighth wicket squeezed them home with five balls to spare.
It earned Pakistan a place in this Saturday’s final against South Africa, while England play in the third-and-fourth place play-off today (Friday) against Australia.
By an amazing coincidence, England had WON by the same margin of three wickets with five balls to spare in their quarter-final against defending champions India last Saturday, also in Dubai.
With Will conceding only 35 runs in his ten-over stint, they restricted India to a total of 221 for eight before reaching 222 for seven in reply.
Earlier England had successfully come through their qualifying group with victories over the UAE and New Zealand
Will has chipped in with bat or ball in all games, and has also won rich praise from observers for his captaincy and leadership skills.
“I think we bettered expectations,” he said. “We strung together some really good cricket during the tournament.”.
All the games were shown on Sky Sports, and watching proudly on TV was his grandfather, Peter Rhodes (80), from his home on Brickyard Drive in Hucknall.
Peter and younger brother E.C. Rhodes (77), known as ‘Cis’, followed in their father’s footsteps at Hucknall CC. ‘Cis’, an outstanding all-rounder, flew out to Dubai for the first week of the World Cup tournament.
Peter’s son, and Will’s dad, Robert (49), also played for the Hucknall club in his younger days. He and his family now live in the small village of Cottingham, near Hull.
Will, left-hand bat and right-arm medium/fast bowler, broke into Yorkshire’s first team last season.
He is hoping his success in Dubai will be the springboard for more progress in his professional career.