Babar Butt after guiding Pudsey Congs to victory in the 2007 Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup final
Picture: ©Mike Baker JCT600 Bradford League
ONE of the JCT600 Bradford League’s most-successful players will play his final game on Sunday.
Babar Butt, who has won 17 trophies in 15 seasons with Pudsey Congs, is to retire after their Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup second round home tie against Bowling Old Lane.
It is an appropriate moment for the 49-year-old batsman to bow out as he will be playing against the club he made his Bradford League bow with back in 1984.
Butt, who has scored 8,804 Bradford League runs, recorded his best aggregate for one season at Old Lane in 1985 when he made 1,027 and he also hit his highest score of 127 the previous year.
As he prepared for his final game he said: “The enthusiasm and the drive are still there and I love playing, but the time is right for me to retire.
“Quite frankly, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to play Bradford League cricket and had so much success with a wonderful club like Pudsey Congs.”
Butt, who initially came to England as an 18-year-old overseas professional with Bowling Old Lane, joined Congs at the start of their glory days in 2000 after eight years in the Yorkshire League, three with Rotherham Town and six at Doncaster Town.
He enjoyed one league title win at Rotherham and a league and cup double in 1999, his final season at Doncaster when he was captain.
He said: “I had enjoyed my Bradford League cricket with Old Lane where I learned so much from Jack Hill. He was straight talking and told you it as it was, but I could never have imagined the success we were to have at Congs.
“It was the vision, drive and will to win of our captain Matthew Doidge that pulled together our side and brought so much success.”
Congs won a record-equalling five-successive league title from 2000, and Butt also helped them to win the Priestley Cup five times, Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy on four occasions, the Twenty/20 Cup twice and the Heavy Woollen Cup once.
“I still have special memories of the first title win in 2000," he said. "We had to play Bradford & Bingley, our rivals for top spot, in the final game. In that season we learned how to win tight games. We didn’t have lots of outstanding individual performances, but everybody chipped in.”
Butt had one season as captain in 2007 when Congs won the Priestley Cup, but he has always been a respected figure whose reading of the game has been appreciated by those who play alongside him.
He has always been a destructive batsman who is widely acknowledged as the best player of spin bowling in the league. His one-handed pulls for six have also been a feature of his play.
Butt believes his bowing at an exciting time for Congs. “The club has a group of talented young players who are maturing into a good side under a good captain in Gareth Phillips.
“Congs has so many special people and it isn’t just about the players on the field. It has become a tradition for the Monday Gang, a group of older members, to work on the ground. Every time I turned up to play my corner of the dressing room was clean and ready for me while the ground always looked great. I just had to concentrate on playing.
“I have been privileged to have been able to play for such a special club.”