United States Army General “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf once said: “It doesn’t take a hero to order men in to battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes in to battle”.
Though the author of the quote may be irrelevant in this case, the inference is precise for the occasion. On Sunday at 12-30 p.m., Burnley amateur cricketer Bharat Tripathi will lead his troops in to battle against Haslingden at Turf Moor as he looks to become the first captain of the club to lift the Worsley Cup in 29 years.
The 23-year-old, in his first full season as skipper after replacing Stephen Brunt midway through the previous term, has lived by that adage throughout the campaign, getting stuck in when it’s mattered. So far this season he’s fired the third highest tally of runs for the club with 329 from 18 matches in addition to 23 wickets, the joint second most potent haul alongside Cole Hayman.
And there’s no doubt that his leadership has had a positive affect on his disciples. On the back of eight wins in nine outings, Burnley have climbed to fourth in the Lancashire League hierarchy and are well in contention for a runner-up finish in a race involving rivals Lowerhouse.
But the big test is yet to come. “We are ready for it,” he said. “We’re just keeping a keen eye on the forecast now. Fingers crossed it stays dry enough to get the game in. All the players are ready and we have been in good form but we need to produce that calibre of cricket in the final.
“We are expecting a decent crowd. There’s quite a few tents there and players past and present will be in attendance so it will be a great occasion. Everybody is looking forward to it. A stretch of 29 years without winning the Worsley Cup is a long time so the club really needs something like this.”
Tripathi, who is hoping to emulate the success of cup-winning captain Roland Harrison, added: “Burnley Cricket Club is definitely on the up. The second team reached the Junior Cup final as well and even though they didn’t win, their achievement shows progression. It would be a nice launch pad for the next few years if we were to win this.
“We are very confident. No player is thinking about losing at the moment. There’s only one permutation. But I’m sure that is the same for Haslingden. We put in a serious performance against them earlier in the season and we beat them convincingly. All the factors are working for us at the moment because we’re in good form, playing some good cricket and we’re producing some phenomenal results.”
Tripathi, who led his side to a comprehensive 107-run win over Sunday’s opponents at the beginning of July, has been contemplating his team selection all week and has been dealt a headache to chose a starting XI due to the competitiveness of his squad. However, he’s adamant that those with the misfortune to miss out for the final will be wholly understanding.
“Our selection meetings are on Tuesday nights,” he said. “There’s easily 15 players that we have to pick from. Josh Whitehead hit an unbeaten 78 in the youth team final before firing 25 not out for the first team against Rishton.
“He’s thrown his name in to the cap. Then there’s Michael and David Brown, Steven Whittaker and Stephen Brunt. At the end of the day we have to pick a team of 11 so there will be disappointment. The team we’ll pick is for the sake of the club.
“Some will miss out but they will understand, appreciate and support any decision made by the selection committee. There’s three or four strong combinations of players that could win that trophy. The decision may come from a gut feeling.”
Tripathi went on to say: “There will be a few of the last cup winning side coming back to watch. Bob Entwistle will be there in the Legend’s Tent alongside a couple of others. It’s obviously a long time ago since we last won it so some of that squad are no longer with us but they’ll be looking down.
“This is for everyone that has been involved at Burnley Cricket Club. It’s more about the current generation though and this era. We’ve had periods in the past where we have won a lot but in the last few decades we haven’t won as much. This group of players need this and they’re desperate to lift the cup.”
Burnley, who take on Church tomorrow, are having an Ashes Club Open Day tomorrow, when everyone is free to come down and watch the Ashes in the clubhouse.
It is an event organised by the ECB and Sky Sports, and is to encourage non-members of their local cricket club to come down and savour the Ashes atmosphere. The bar will be open from noon.