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New captain Mike Ruffell on The Mote’s opening-day Kent League Championship victory at Leeds & Broomfield

By Mark Bristow

The Mote's new captain Mike Ruffell hailed the composure and discipline displayed by his side in a five-wicket victory away to local rivals Leeds & Broomfield that got their Kent League Championship campaign off to a flying start on Saturday.

The stakes could hardly have been higher for Ruffell in a game freighted with anticipation and emotion but The Mote prevailed with 25 balls to spare in front of a healthy crowd at Leeds.

The Mote batsman Tom Harvey. Picture: Andy Jones
The Mote batsman Tom Harvey. Picture: Andy Jones

“It was a big win for us but nothing more than that and we have got to back it up week in week out,” said Ruffell, 31, a Zimbabwe-born New Zealander embarking on his third season with the club.

Dylan De Villiers, The Mote’s South African overseas player who is back for a second season, led the way with six wickets before adding 61 not out in 58 balls with the bat in tandem with Matt White, who marked his return to the club with 84.

Together they added 104 to steady the ship and lead The Mote to the cusp of victory after the loss of two quick wickets, including that of Ruffell for a second-ball duck, left the visitors wobbling slightly at 90-3.

Earlier Max Aitken had got his season off to a dream start after an injury blighted 2023, with 108 off 140 balls as Leeds totalled 221-9 from their allotted 50 overs.

“We could have folded when Tom Harvey and myself got out and certainly at that stage of the game Leeds were really up for it but Matt and Dylan led us to a win that looked more one-sided than it actually was,” Ruffell added.

“I was really pleased for Dylan who broke a finger in his first game last season and couldn't play to his full potential for about six weeks but, fully fit, he looks a quality player and having Matt back is an obvious boost.

“I was really impressed with the discipline we showed in the field.

“We knew they had some really good batters but on a good wicket we thought that their total might be 20 or 30 short.”

Ruffell and his girlfriend Charlie are expecting their first baby at the end of a season that he hopes will end in a double celebration with The Mote being restored to the top tier of Kent club cricket.

“That’s the plan,” added Ruffell. “We do have the strength here to be ambitious again and it’s the reason why I agreed to take on the captaincy.”

The Mote move on to a home game this weekend against a Whitstable side expected to include teenage Kent all-rounder Jaydn Denly, 18, who has already played County Championship cricket against Essex this season.

Also playing for Whitstable at The Mote this weekend will be Ethan Saggers, also 18, and the son of former Kent and England fast bowler Martin Saggers.

Saggers Jr took four wickets for five runs in 5.1 overs as Whitstable bowled Sevenoaks Vine out for 54 in an eight-wicket win in the Championship.

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