In the process of getting 40 against Surbiton Imperials in May 2008, Mark Bradshaw passed a landmark of 5000 career runs for the Exiles.The website asked Mark a few questions to reflect on his achievement.
Mark, congratulations, how does it feel to reach such a significant landmark?
Not bad, but it’s not that big a deal. You need to put it into perspective. In my first season of village cricket, my captain Robin Fenn made over 1300 runs in a season then a couple of years later he did the double i.e. 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season. In addition, last year some guy playing in the South Lincs/Peterborough area scored the 40,000th run on his career. Compared to those sorts of records, my landmark isn’t such a feat.
I presume you have known for a while you were close to reaching this figure?
Yes, and I should have reached the figure last season, but missed six weeks owing to a foot injury, and last summer’s dreadful weather didn’t help either.
What has been your favourite innings?
No particular innings, but I did enjoy the following:
39 against Harrowdene in 1996 (my debut for the team)
94 against Caythorpe in 1998
103 not out against Morden Parish in 2004
84 against Morden Corinthians in 2004
64 not out against Clapham Nomads in 2005, which was my last match as captain and it was nice to sign off by contributing to a victory against some decent opposition that day.
Any regrets, perhaps, that there is just the one century (to date)
Not really, as I am delighted to have made one century. I would love to have made 1000 runs in a season, but haven’t really got close. My main regret is not beating my old team Castle Bytham in a 20 over match on the 2000 tour. We should have walked it, but we made some daft decisions which cost us the match.
What target have you set yourself next?
Fifty 50s. So far I’ve made 39.
Can you describe how the Exiles have changed in your time spent within the set-up? In particular, how your role has changed?
On the whole we are playing better sides and on better pitches. We improved quite a bit from 1997 onwards to around 2004. However, in the last few years we have lost a lot of very good all-rounders and results have suffered as a consequence. I don’t think my role has really changed that much. I started off batting at 4 or 5, but pretty soon found myself either opening or going at No.3, which is about the same as it is now.
You captained the side for a while – did it have any effect on your batting do you think?
Yes, it made me better.
Who have you enjoyed batting with most over the years?
Amil Patel. He rotates the strike very well.
How has playing alongside Exiles legend Jeff Hilson helped over the years to hone your batting technique and mindset?
A true inspiration and I recite his poems while I am at the crease to help me focus, ‘Hoo hoo to the owl! Thou o owl!’. Jeff’s courage against fast bowlers is also an example to us all.
Would you trade all those runs that you have scored for a bowling ability like Jeff’s?
No, I much prefer batting!
Interview by Jasper Searle