David Banks fittingly hit the winning runs for Sarisbury Athletic as they clinched the Southern Eletric Premier League division one crown and finally secured promotion to the premier division.
The Sarisbury skipper hit three successive boundaries to finish the game in style as he cracked an unbeaten 52 in his side’s last-day victory over Bournemouth.
After the Dorset club were bowled out for 179, Sarisbury looked in command at 70 without loss as Archie Norris (63) and Ricky Rawlins (34) got the innings off to a solid start.
But that soon became 134 for five to crank up the pressure, until Banks guided his side home with seven balls to spare to claim a four-wicket win and seal their place in the top flight.
Banks said: ‘It was definitely nice to be out there to hit the winning runs.
‘It was a good game of cricket to end the season on, although it was a bit tighter than we would have wanted.
‘It was good to do it in the way we did by showing a bit of character.
‘It’s just fantastic that we finally did it. On my part, I think the feeling is relief.
‘After we won it three years ago, we have done well to keep the interest levels up.
‘It gets hard when you are not sure you will get promoted.
‘We still haven’t got the 100-per-cent go-ahead, although I think we will, now that the ground has had the improvements.
‘But it’s great news for everyone at the club. The chairman, all the ground staff and everyone else have all put so much effort in.
‘A few years ago, they were scraping around in the Hampshire League playing on a village green.
‘So it’s an amazing achievement for the club.’
Sarisbury knew their destiny was in their own hands on the final weekend, while their rivals for the title – New Milton and Basingstoke – played out a tie in their fixture.
And while Banks admitted his men have not quite fired on all cylinders this year, he is relishing his chance to return to the top division.
He said: ‘It’s a different feeling. When I was at BAT, we won the league and that was my first proper title.
‘When I came back to the club four years ago, we said we wanted to get up to the top league.
‘I left that league but I always wanted to be playing at that level again and we’re all looking forward to it.
‘The aim was to go back and get Sarisbury up there.
‘It could have happened a few years ago but it’s fantastic for little old Sarisbury.
‘We probably haven’t played our best cricket this year.
‘We played our best cricket last year and missed out by a point. But I think we deserve to have a crack at it.’
While Banks has yet to turn his attentions to next season, he knows he needs to improve the side with some quality additions.
He said: ‘Without doubt, we will need to recruit a couple of quality players. But that is pretty obvious really.
‘We haven’t started putting the feelers out yet.
‘Celebrations went long into the night and there were a few bad heads in the morning.
‘So I will start thinking about that when I’ve had some sleep!’