AFTER WEEKS of nervously edging towards the magic four figure mark Cliff Parker finally made it on Saturday when he bowled Gretton skipper Russell Dolby middle stump to claim his 1000th County League wicket.
Cliff Parker in action
The Rushden 2nds veteran, whose feat is unmatched it County League history, started the day needing two more to reach his target just as he had the previous weekend.
Number one came from his first delivery, a long hop which Gretton opener Gerald Burnham, who made 33, put into the safe hands of Pip Cox at cover point.
And within two overs the pressure was off as he produced a delivery which sparked off some more demonstrative than usual celebrations from 48-year-old Cliff and his team-mates.
He didn't stop there, going on to finish with four for 25 as Gretton declared at 155-8 in 36 overs with further sterling contributions from Stephen Baines (30 not out), Andrew Ward and Ian Binley (both 25).
Rushden held on for a draw at 105-7, Cox making 40 and Peter Law taking 3-10. But Cliff rules out any question of him hanging around to reach any more major milestones, explaining: "This is my 25th County League season and I said when I first found the record was on that I'd pack up when I got to either 1000 wickets or my 50th birthday.
"I may carry on playing in friendly cricket but this will definitely be my last season in the County League, as a player anyway because I may take up umpiring so that I am able to put something back into the game."
Cliff admitted that the pressure had been getting to his team-mates as much as himself, saying "They were all worried after I'd taken my first wicket on Saturday in case they were to drop a catch. I think they were doubly relieved when the chap was bowled."
Strangely enough, however, Cliff remains unfulfilled, for he reveals: "One of my biggest ambitions was to take ten wickets in an innings. I've twice taken nine, against Hanslope, who used to be my rabbits, and against Desborough but I have loved to have taken ten."
Medium-pacer Cliff, who once opened batting for a spell during his 13 years as Rushden seconds skipper started his County League career as a fast bowler with Wellingborough but has taken all but his first 200 wickets with his present club.