Leatherhead Cricket Club’s Shaun Udal would jump at the chance to join the England team in India as they start the Test Series, but until that call comes, he is more than happy enjoying promotion to Surrey Championship Division One.
That’s because the former England, Hampshire and Middlesex spin bowler feels part of something special at Fetcham Grove, and he is staying around for more of the same.
Leatherhead CC were promoted from Division Two as champions, losing just three out of 16 unabandoned games, in which Udal took 38 wickets for 348, an economy of 2.69, with a season’s best of 6-36.
But the 43-year-old is quick to point out the team won promotion, and the team is getting stronger and stronger.
“I am very proud to be part of what was a fantastic effort all year round. We started well with seven wins on the spin and everyone thought we were going to walk this,” Udal said.
“Then we had a hic-cup in the middle where we lost two or three on the trot. Then we won every game towards the end of the season so it was a great effort to finish as champions.”
He added: “It has been a good year and next year is going to be a big step up, but with the side we have we’re more than capable of going onto better things.”
And Leatherhead showed their ruthless when they won the last game of the season despite having already won the title.
Udal said: “We didn’t have to win that game but we did. It showed the winning ambition and desire was within the club right to the very end.
“It sends out a message and for the guys thinking about next season it was good for us to win that game. Matt [Joblin] has captained the side fantastically well, he’s only 25/26, and the rest of the team are very young too.
“They have done things right, everyone has come through the system apart from myself, and those lads are going to be with the club for the next five to 10 years.”
Udal’s greatest moment in an England shirt came in the 2006 Test Series win over India on the sub-continent where his figures of 4-14 included the most famous wicket in Indian cricket, that of Sachin Tendulkar.
“I remember the delivery that got Sachin out vividly, it is still on YouTube so I can remind myself that I was not too bad at one point in my life.
“It will stay with me forever and of course it is particularly poignant with England being out in India, it was the only test they had won out there in 20-odd years so to contribute to that was amazing.
“To get Sachin was awesome and to then be celebrate with Freddie and the boys was fantastic.”
He added: “I would jump at the bit to get back involved with the England team if that phone call came. And while winning Division Two cannot eclipse beating India on their home soil – for the first time in 21 years – with England in 2006 to tie the Test Series, it is still an achievement of some pride.
“There have been other things that rank on a higher scale, but in terms of what it means to the family, for them to reach the highest league in the history of their club is a fantastic achievement for what is a very young side, apart from myself.
“From a LCC perspective it is a huge achievement – it’s the highest level in the club’s history, however long that is.”
Check out Udal's famous dismissal: www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3lDqGTQNRU