Harrow St Mary’s have their moment in the sun at last

PROMOTION to the Middlesex County League had been a long time coming for Harrow St Mary’s Cricket Club – more than a century in fact.

Since the club’s formation in 1881, Harrow had never made it past the Middlesex Championship, but began their ascent in 2008, when they moved from their home at Harrow Recreation Ground, to Millhillians Sports Club in Headstone Lane.

Two years later, the Harrow St Mary’s first XI finally won promotion, and this season they will take their place in Division Three, alongside local rivals Kenton, Wembley and Bessborough, when the season gets under way on Saturday.

It is an achievement long overdue, says HSM secretary Lesley Brown, who believes that promotion has given the club’s young players the important opportunity to try and break into the first team.

“It’s amazing for the club. Getting promoted capped off a great few years for us – it was the cherry on top of the cake,” said Brown.

“It has taken us a long time to get to this level, a lot of years spent developing our colts and better players, only to see them leave as they tried to get to county level.

“This has given the colts something to aim for – they’re the future of the club and they have a challenge here now.

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“We played Twickenham in the Championship four or five years ago, and have watched them as they progressed to the top tier.

“Now we want to get a good run at it ourselves and, hopefully, follow in their footsteps. We have high hopes, it’s good to be on the up at last.”

Harrow St Mary’s have several colts players coming through the ranks, including batsmen Nishal Patel and Sam Blenner.

And key to their survival hopes in Division Three will be captain Gary Pettet, who has been with the club for 10 years, along with overseas player Sanjeewa Jayaratne, an all-rounder who is preparing for his sixth season with the club.

HSM begin their season with a home match against Barnes, before travelling to North London on May 7 and facing the first of their local rivals on May 21, a home clash with Wembley.

Wembley, who narrowly missed out on promotion last season, travel to Bessborough, while South Hampstead – relegated to the bottom division for the first time in a decade – begin at home to Indian Gymkhana.

Kenton, who accompanied SH through the trapdoor after just one season in Division Two, are also at home against Uxbridge, while Harrow Town – who did stay up after winning promotion in 2009 – visit Brentham.

Relegated Shepherd’s Bush begin their bid for an immediate return to the top flight at Enfield while, in Division One, Brondesbury will be aiming to build on last year’s improvement as they start the season at Stanmore.