Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Watts’ knock makes him league’s all-time top run scorer

PEPPARD STOKE ROW batsman Andy Watts has said he is “honoured” to have become the Wintech

PEPPARD STOKE ROW batsman Andy Watts has said he is “honoured” to have become the Wintech Berkshire Cricket League’s all-time top runscorer after breaking the record on Saturday.

The opening batsman surpassed John Marston’s tally of 11,499 runs when he reached 45 during an innings of 60 against Mortimer West End.

The South African-born opener, 44, has begun his 28th season in the competition, having made his debut for Emmer Green against Little Marlow in 1987 â?? and admitted Saturday’s game was the first time he had counted his runs in many years while batting.

He said: “It was very apt that the record came with a cut for four, as that is something of a trademark shot.

“It is a great honour to go to the top of the list and there have been some wonderful players I have played with and against. I think my best innings was 100 against Sonning when they were at their peak in 2006.”

Watts, who lives in Kidmore End, has played for Emmer Green, Farley Hill, Berkshire County Sports, Peppard and Peppard Stoke Row during his illustrious career, and has scored 22 centuries.

His highest league score came in 2013, when he smashed an unbeaten 145 at Checkendon. During that summer he scored 787 runs and finished runner-up in the Premier Division Batsman of the Year competition.

Peppard Stoke Row captain Paddy Hennessy paid tribute to Watts, saying: “Andy has always been a wonderful operator and had a great record against Stoke Row.

“He was always one of the batsmen we wanted to get out early but more often than not that proved difficult to do.

“Since Peppard and Stoke Row merged he has continued to score runs at a phenomenal rate and is a real rock at the top of the order. It is a pleasure to have him in the side and he is a tremendous presence around the dressing room.” He continued: “I hope he continues to score runs and sets a record that can never be broken â?? if he can go beyond 15,000 by the time he is finished we will be delighted.” Watts is also the director of youth cricket at Peppard Stoke Row and has overseen an astonishing rise in the number of children playing the game.

He initially launched the youth section along with Paul Evans in 2011 as a means of giving U11s at their respective football clubs — Rotherfield United and Caversham Trent — a sport to play during the summer.

Since then, however, the club has grown quickly to include more than 150 youngsters playing from U6 to U15.

And Watts said: “We have many talented youngsters and hopefully they will go on to the first team — maybe one will go on to beat my tally.”

Berkshire League Secretary Sam Peates described Watts’ efforts as a “phenomenal achievement” and admitted he would be surprised if the record is ever surpassed.

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