Farewell to Dereham cricketing legend Ian Battelley
Legendary commentator Henry 'Blowers' Blofeld has led glowing tributes to Dereham's own cricketing legend Ian 'Nos' Battelley.
The 67-year-old is leaving his home town club after an amazing career which has seen him score an estimated 40,000 runs and take 1,000 wickets.
Blofeld was unable to attend Battelley's farewell game at Dereham yesterday but sent a message saying: 'Ian, I hope you have a terrific day and that you stamp your own inimitable mark on what will be your last game.
'What a fantastic career you have had. It is players like you who are the backbone of the wonderful game of cricket in England. Dereham CC will not be the same without you and the best of luck for this last day. Toodle pip, Henry!'
After joining Dereham from the neighbouring Jentiques Cricket Club in 1965 when aged 21, Battelley went on to make a huge impact at the club alongside his brothers Barry, Martin and the late Chris.
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He made his Norfolk debut in 1968 against Cambridgeshire at Lakenham and went on to play 22 times for the county, although his appearances were limited by work commitments.
Mattishall Football Club secretary and long-time Dereham CC supporter Mel Harbour: 'For somebody who has scored more than 40,000 runs and also played more than 1,000 games of football for Dereham and numerous games for Hobbies (over 200) and is also a golfing bandit, he has truly Legend Status.
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'It will never be matched anywhere else in this county, country or even the world!'
The retired teaching assistant, who worked at Dereham's Fred Nicholson School for 17 years, plans to continue playing after he and his wife, Rosemary, move to Pembrookshire later this month to be closer to their daughter Joanne and first grandchild, Idris.
'I'll hopefully play one more season if anybody wanted an aged cricketer!' he said. 'I've always lived in Dereham and it'll be hard to go.'
In his final season with Dereham CC A team, Batteley scored 431 runs at an average of 43.1 – and it would have topped more than 50 if he had not played the final two games with a serious hamstring injury and got two ducks.
He also took 16 wickets at an average of just 16.1 – and colleagues only spotted one bad ball all season.
Battelley bowed out of Norfolk cricket with a final match at the Dereham ground yesterday, captaining a side of former players against the current first team.