North Runcton paceman Ben Coote claimed a stunning 9-35 in a Dipple & Conway Opticians Norfolk Alliance Division One match to become the third young local cricketer to land a Player of the Month accolade this summer.
Previous winners Jasper Payne of Swaffham and Harrison Futter of Fakenham A were also named in the August shortlist.
Coote’s spectacular haul laid the foundation for a fabulous August following an injury-plagued season.
“I had been out for several weeks after tearing my ankle ligaments playing football,” said Ben. “We had a fixture against Great Witchingham A and even on the morning of the game I wasn’t sure if I was going to play. It felt good after a work-out, so I said to the captain ‘I am up for it’.”
The 21-year-old clean-bowled five of the opposition batsmen and had four others caught behind by the wicketkeeper as Witchingham were skittled out for 97. Ben finished with 9-35 and North Runcton went on to win by seven wickets. Ben followed up his explosive start to August with four-wicket bags against Acle at home and Horsford A away.
“Taking nine wickets in a single innings is one of those once-in-a-lifetime achievements most bowlers will only dream about,” said Damian Conway, joint owner of Dipple & Conway Opticians, the family business started by his grandfather in 1916. “It makes Ben one of the most worthy winners we have ever had of the Dipple & Conway Opticians Norfolk Cricket Alliance Player of the Month Award.”
Damian and his nephew Matthew Conway were joined by Alliance vice-chairman John Tythcott for the presentation of a commemorative pennant and a £179 pair of Adidas Sports sunglasses which Coote chose as his prize.
“It is now three times in four months this summer that players aged 21 or under have claimed our award – and we are delighted about that because it is shows a wonderful foundation for the future of cricket in Norfolk,” said Damian Conway. “It speaks volumes for the quality of groundwork being done by dedicated junior coaches.”
Dipple & Conway has practices in Swaffham, Norwich, and Diss.
Coote has been playing cricket at North Runcton all his life, following in the footsteps of his father Peter, a club stalwart and former Norfolk player. He progressed to the senior sides in his mid-teens and is now the first team’s main fast bowler. North Runcton CC finished second in Division One of the Alliance this season, a mere five points behind champions Garboldisham.
NRCC presented Ben with a special trophy to mark his achievement – only the third time in the club’s 80-year-history that one of its players has taken nine wickets during a league game.
“It had been a frustrating summer for me because of the injuries I had. It means I’ve only played in seven games… although I’ve been at the ground to support the team,” said Ben. “But that day against Great Witchingham has made it a season I’ll never forget.”
Ben graduated from Durham University this year with a degree in maths. He is working as a mentor at Springwood High School, Lynn, while he considers his options for a future career.
Dipple & Conway Alliance August Player of the Month shortlist – local players: Ben Coote (North Runcton) 9-35, 4-25 & 4-29; Harrison Futter (Fakenham A) 123, 103 & 69; Jasper Payne (Swaffham) 75, 80 & 4-15.