Stony Stratford Cricket Club’s most experienced player has been forced to retire from the game on doctors orders.
Steve Bellew has called time on his cricketing career aged just 37 after he was told he needed a hip replacement.
“It started with some stiffness after games,” said the left-armer. “I went to see a specialist last week, and he told me I had osteoarthritis in my hip and that I should stop playing immediately.
“I’m devastated to be honest. I was going to call time on my days in the first team at the end of the year anyway - I’ve got a young family who I don’t get to see often with my job, so I wanted to take a step back from playing.
“I wanted to go out on my own terms, but the decision was taken out of my hands.”
Bellew joined Stony Stratford in 1999, and in his 14 seasons with the club, has taken 318 victims with the ball, with a stunning best of 8-17 in 2006. Nearly 30 per cent of Stony’s wickets in the last 14 years have been taken by Bellew.
He said: “There have been some great times here. The club has been so good to me, and it’s part of my life now.
“I’ve seen a lot of overseas players come and go, and I’ve made some great friends.
“I was surprised to see how many people sent me messages when they found out I was retiring.
“Going to tell Alex (Strong, Stony captain) was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
“I told the rest of the guys in the dressing room before the game on Saturday, and they were really supportive.
“Horton House gave me a good send off too, and I thank them for that. It felt strange after the game, with everything coming to an end.”
And although he won’t be out in the middle any more, Bellew says he will still be a familiar face around the cricket club.
He said: “I want to thank everyone at Stony Stratford Cricket Club for all the help and support over the years.
“I’ll still be around, helping out where I can.”
He wasn’t missing out on much on his first Saturday of retirement though, with every game in the region washed away.
None of the 26 scheduled games in the Four Counties league went ahead as the downpours battered pitches everywhere.
It was a similar story for Cherwell League sides Great Brickhill, Wolverton and Bletchley Town - none of whom even bowled a ball on Saturday.
So the town’s teams will be keen to get back to winning ways next week, with fingers crossed that the weather dries up.
In Northants Premier League, Stony Stratford will be on the road to take on Rushton, while in Cherwell League Division 1, Great Brickhill are at home to Banbury 2nds. Wolverton will play host to Oxford 2nds.
In Division 3, Bletchley will play Bicester & North Oxford.
In Four Counties, North Crawley will be keen to maintain their unbeaten start to the season in Division 1 against bottom club Eggington Foresters.
New City will look to close the gap to Elstow in second in their game against Biddenham, Olney take on Milton Keynes City and Milton Keynes host Thurleigh.
Division 2 leaders Aspley Guise travel to Stoke Hammond, Newport Pagnell play host to Old Bradwell, New Bradwell host Milton Bryan and Cranfield University are at home to Buckland & Aston Clinton.