Record-breaking Empingham’s run blitz helps to fire title charge
With just four games remaining, Empingham are in pole position to land the Division One crown in the Grantham & Melton League.
They go into Sunday’s match at Ashby Carington looking for their 13th successive league victory to maintain their relentless charge.
Their latest success came against Queniborough on Sunday where Empingham bludgeoned a monumental 402 runs off their 40 overs - their highest ever total in the Grantham League.
The heroic batting display provided them with their 15th and most comprehensive league win of the season with the eventual winning margin being 232 runs./
The colossal total owed much to a sensational 162 not out from leading run scorer Tom Cooper, but he was ably supported by his fellow batsmen as the Rutlanders pillaged the visiting Queniborough attack.
Cooper has now scored 402 unbeaten runs in his last four league games after the destructive left hander walloped 15 fours and nine maximums in his remarkable innings.
Cooper said: “It seems to have clicked for me over the past few weeks and I have enjoyed hitting some big runs.
“To be 402 not out isn’t bad! That was my highest ever score on Sunday and the highest ever total I can remember Empingham posting, so it was pretty special to be a part of.
“As ever, I just want to say a massive thank you to Mal Smith. There is nowhere better to bat in village cricket than Exton Road.
“We have four huge games left and we would love to win them all, although I think we now need to win just two to win the league.”
Batting first, Empingham got off to an imperious start with skipper Henry Stephenson (45 off 48 balls) and John Chell (58 off 43) putting on 116 for the opening partnership in just 13 overs.
The pair set the tempo for the carnage that followed with some stunning strokes.
Chell continued his fine debut season for the club by posting his fourth 50 in just eight innings’ - the opener now boasts 281 league runs at 40.41.
Stephenson’s captaincy continues to go full steam ahead, the 16-year-old having hit 116 runs at an average of 58 in his first three games in charge of the league leaders.
The pair fell in consecutive overs but this had little effect on the run rate as the incoming Cooper and Mark Coburn maintained the assault with a magnificent 176 run partnership.
Coburn looked in fine fettle on his way to his first half-century of the season in an eye catching innings of 70 off 47 balls which included 13 boundaries, one of which cleared the ropes.
However, yet again it was Cooper who led the charge as he composed his career best innings of 162 not out off just 86 deliveries.
Once Coburn was removed, there was just time for Baz Sharp (24 off 15 balls) and Rob Mckevitt (10 not out off four balls) to provide some late impetus and take the Exton Road side famously past 400. The innings as a whole included 41 fours and 12 sixes.
In response, Queniborough’s opening bat John Edmunds (74 off 61) enjoyed the absence of Empingham’s usual new ball combination of Stew Naylor and Mark Stephenson as he got the visitors’ innings off to an energetic start.
Alfie Coward (1-35) and Rob McKevitt (2-58) were able to remove the rest of the dangerous top order, but it required the canny Coburn (1-26) to dismiss Edmunds and end any possibility of a miraculous chase.
After this, Queniborough were only ever playing for pride as they were bowled out for 170 with Chell (3-10) and Sharp (2-7) having the honours of mopping up the beleaguered tail to secure a maximum 20 points.