Former Northants man Rob White, of Old Northamptonians in the Northamptonshire Cricket League, is our fourth winner of The Cricket Paper’s ‘All-Rounder of the Month’ award, which recognises outstanding all-round performances at all levels. The award is in
Find out who picks up the prize for August’s performances
Ayear ago Rob White helped Old Northamptonians to a first Northamptonshire Cricket League title in 23 years – midway through this season a repeat seemed very unlikely.
That was until a resurgence from ONs over the second half of the summer, led by former Northants player White, a standout with both bat and especially ball.
Now, with just one game remaining, ONs need a single point against Rushton to clinch back-to-back titles and demonstrate they are a team to be counted on in the long term.
And while White may have been better known for his batting in his county days – notably scoring 277 in a clash with Gloucestershire back in 2002 – his bowling has been just as important this season.
“I’ve had a pretty decent season for most of the year, and especially since it looked like we might be able to win the league,” he explained.
“We were in third for much of the year, but we were never completely out of contention. Unlike last year, lots of teams have been dropping points against one another, so even though we started slowly, we knew there was still a chance.
“It was just a case of trying to stay in touch until we started to find our form.
“I’ve bowled a lot more than in previous seasons, and I’ve even taken 50 wickets, which is something that I had never managed before.
“We’ve been without a couple of bowlers for a lot of the season. Gareth Wade, who I had spotted when I was umpiring, had come in. But he had a stress fracture and has only just come back, while Tom Heathfield broke down in our first game, so we were missing both of our main strike bowlers.
“So that’s put a little more responsibility on me to bowl, but I’ve enjoyed it and it’s nice to be involved in that side of the game.
“I only bowl leg spin so it’s not as if it puts too much of a strain on the body!
“For the club it’s great to be on the verge of another title. Last year was our first title in 23 years so it would be huge to do it again.
“We knew it would be harder second time around. There had been a few teams who had won it for the first time and then found it difficult to back it up, so it’s a great effort by all the players for us to be back there.”
August was a particularly good month for White, who managed to rack up 331 runs in seven innings including a pair of centuries against Northampton Saints and Wollaston.
Add in 12 wickets at an average of under ten, and White has been the stand-out all-rounder in the ECB Premier Leagues, earning the Haresfoot All-Rounder of the Month award.
The next target is that solitary point against Rushton, who currently sit third, with Peterborough Town lying in wait in case ONs slip up.
And from a personal perspective, White has another target in mind as well, albeit secondary to securing the title.
“I’ve got 50 wickets in the season but it would be great to be able to finish with 1,000 runs as well,” he said.
“I don’t think many people have done that, and I’m not far away. I need 45 in the last game to get there, that would certainly be a feather in the cap to achieve that.
“We just need a point against Rushton, so hopefully we can do it, although last time we played them they beat us by ten wickets so we can’t take anything for granted.
“We’ve improved since then, and it was when we played Peterborough, another of our rivals, that it started to feel that we could do it.
“In that game (in late July) we scored about 240 and restricted them to 121-6 for a very good winning draw.
“I was always confident we could take it to the final game, and after that we’ve just been able to kick on.
“Then last weekend’s results really
went our way so that we’re almost there.”
Five straight wins have all but wrapped up the title, and ONs were even able to call on a high-profile former player in one of those games.
Lacking game time at Yorkshire, David Willey popped back to his first club to play a game against Stony Stratford at the start of the month.
His bowling figures of 2-39 were not bad, although overshadowed by White’s 4-35.
However, Willey certainly made his mark with the bat.
He hammered an unbeaten 83 off just 37 balls in an eight-wicket success, and White admitted it was nice to have Willey back at the club.
“David got in touch with us because he was looking for some game time and had not been playing a huge amount at Yorkshire,” he said.
“He really is a club man. He came through the ranks here, he played for ONs before going on to play county cricket, so when he called we were delighted to have him.
“He’s obviously a great player and got 80 off not many balls and it’s great for the league to have an England player turning up.
“Now he’s not able to do it quite so much being up in Yorkshire, but when he was at Northants he used to pop down to the club most Saturdays when he wasn’t playing.
“He’d be happy to move the sightscreen or help out so it’s nice to have him back now and again.
“It’s similar for me. ONs was my club before I played county cricket so it was great to be able to come back and play for them again.”
It’s certainly been a successful return for White, who called time on his first-class career in 2012.
Now he has the chance to lead ONs to a second successive title while completing a fine all-round season – it just requires a point and 45 runs on Saturday.
We are delighted that The Cricket Paper, Haresfoot Brewery, The Lord's Taverners and ourselves have come together to initiate this new award which, over time, will reflect the all-round contributions made by individuals to the success of cricket teams at many levels of the game. When, two years ago, we commissioned Haresfoot to produce All-Rounder: Cricket Writers' Club Ale, we did so in the belief that cricket and beer is a marriage to be ranked alongside the likes of strawberries and cream, Lillee and Thomson, Greenidge and Haynes, and horses and carriages. The beer was created with significant input from a group of our members, and we are so pleased that All-Rounder has not only been well-received commercially but that it has now provided the spark of an idea which has resulted in the creation of this monthly summer award.” Mark Baldwin, Chairman of the Cricket Writers' Club
Heyday: White in his days playing for Northants
Each monthly winner of the award will win a crate of All-Rounder beer. It could be you next month!
Title assault: Rob White, front row middle, lines up with his Old Northamptonians team-mates Class act: White bowling for the ONs