NOTTS PREMIER LEAGUE: skipper Butler closes his glorious reign with Cuckney’s third title

WILL POWER -- Will Butler, who has stepped down as Cuckney captain after ten glorious years and three Notts Premier League titles.
WILL POWER -- Will Butler, who has stepped down as Cuckney captain after ten glorious years and three Notts Premier League titles.

Familiar title celebrations were also tinged with sadness when Cuckney clinched another Notts Premier League (NPL) crown on a rain-hit last day of the season.

For their inspirational captain, Will Butler, annnounced that he is to step down after ten glorious years at the helm.

All-rounder Butler led Cuckney to their third NPL title in five seasons after a weather-affected draw at home to Hucknall on Saturday. It completed a notable double because, the previous week, they lifted the prestigious Derbyshire County Premier Cup, which is also open to the cream of Nottinghamshire clubs.

It also completed a reign as captain that has included two other NPL championships, in 2012 and 2014, a handful of NPL Twenty20 triumphs and even success in national competitions.

“It’s been quite a ride,” said the 35-year-old Butler this week. “When I first took over in 2006, we were still in the Bassetlaw League, but look where we are now!

“I feel it is the right time to retire as captain. I have done my bit. It’s time for some of the younger lads to come in with fresh ideas and stamp their authority on the club. It has been a great ten years.”

The South African will remain at Cuckney, a club he is clearly proud of after its rise from humble beginnings as a small village outfit to the best in the county.

Butler admits that the Bears’ third NPL title took him by surprise and labels it “our biggest achievement”. “I didn’t expect it because we have such a young side and because we had some availability issues during the season,” he said.

“Our opening bowler, Lewis Bramley, missed the last ten games because of work commitments and our overseas player, Trent Lawford, missed six games because he had the wrong visa. As a result, we had to use more players (21) than any other side in the league, including young lads coming through the ranks. The bad weather has also meant we were never able to gather lots of momentum.”

Butler stressed that “everyone has chipped in” but reserved special praise for batsman James Hawley, who tops the league’s averages after amassing 853 runs, and influential all-rounder Lawford.

Cuckney could still have been pipped on the final day of the campaign. But closest rivals Plumtree’s match was washed out by rain, rendering the outcome of the clash with Hucknall academic.

After ensuring their Langwith Road ground was fit for a game reduced to 35 overs, they restricted the relegation-threatened visitors to 162-6, with Notts CCC batsman Jake Libby making 60 and Richard Greatorex 34, before easing to 107-3 from 24 overs in reply, with Luke Thomas hitting 33 and Hawley, who took 3-29 with the ball, adding 25.