Langley Mill cricketers in mourning after tragic death of former captain

PAYING THEIR RESPECTS -- players from Langley Mill and Dunstall hold a minute's silence in memory of Jeffrey Wharton, who has died.
PAYING THEIR RESPECTS -- players from Langley Mill and Dunstall hold a minute's silence in memory of Jeffrey Wharton, who has died.

Distraught members of Langley Mill United Cricket Club are in mourning after the death of their former captain, Jeffrey Wharton.

The club heard the sad news last Saturday night that Wharton had lost his battle to survive after a tragic accident at work.

A spokesman for the club described him as “a very talented player who graced our field for four years”.

The following day, a minute’s silence was observed at the Millers’ match at home to Dunstall in the Second Round of the Derbyshire County League’s Marston’s Smooth Trophy. Flags were also held at half mast as a mark of respect.

As the tie got under way, the mood was sombre, but the home side were determined to test their mettle against a Dunstall side flying high at the top of the section above them, Division One, and favourites for promotion to the elite Premier Division.

They were far from disgraced. However, they couldn’t mark the occasion with victory as they were bowled out for 138 before the visitors reached their target for the loss of four wickets.

Just as it had been 24 hours earlier in a league match at Holmewood, the Millers’ batting was disjointed and they lost wickets at regular intervals, beginning with that of opener Jay Holmes, who became the first of four catches behind the stumps for Michael Graves.

Lewis Pinder did hit a six and three fours in a bright 21, but he was second man out before the rest of the top order, comprising Neil Wing, Fritz De Beer and Josh Lacey, all quickly followed, leaving the hosts on 54-5.

Number six Paul Bailey offered admirable defiance, top scoring with 36 (one six and five fours), and he received valiant support from Daniel Hanson (18, four fours), Alex Bacon (15), who plundered a century for the second team the previous day, and Jack Scott (16no, three fours). But their total was nowhere near enough, and most of the honours went to the Dunstall bowlers, led by Dan Featherstone (3-17 in six overs), Gay Bulpitt (3-36 in nine overs) and George Scrimshaw (2-22 in seven overs).

To their credit, the Langley Mill bowlers also performed well, making Dunstall work hard for their victory, which had to wait until the 32nd over of their reply.

Wickets fell to Holmes (1-37 in eight overs), Simon Lacey (1-25 in ten overs) and Josh Lacey (1-32 in 5.5 overs) as the visitors made their unconvincing way to 60-3 and 94-4. But Dunstall were expertly held together by opener James Benstead, who carried his bat for an unbeaten 55.

Benstead cracked seven boundaries in his 96-ball knock that anchored the innings well, and after the departures of Shaun Jenkinson for 18 and Sam Bates for 15, he finally found a willing ally in the aggressive Kevin McClean, who smashed four sixes in an undefeated 33 from just 15 balls.