Bury St Edmunds stalwart Justin Bishop will be playing his final game for the cricket club this weekend
- Credit: Archant
Justin Bishop will be hanging up his cricket boots this weekend after a long and successful career with his home town club of Bury St Edmunds.
All-rounder Bishop, who earlier in his career played first-class cricket for Essex, before going on to captain Minor Counties Championship side Suffolk, will play his final game for Bury St Edmunds on Saturday, away at Cambridge Granta.
The 33-year-old is retiring from competitive cricket, having played a big role in securing Bury’s status as a Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League outfit for another season, only a few days earlier.
Bishop fittingly hit the winning runs against Frinton last Saturday, to wrap up a crucial four-wicket win over the high-flying Essex club at the Victory Ground.
This sixth win in 10 games ensured that Bury would be safe from relegation, with one fixture still remaining – yet for most of this season, relegation had looked a distinct possibility, with the West Suffolk club rooted to bottom spot.
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“It was looking grim for a long time, and personally I didn’t want to sign off with the club being relegated out of the League,” explained Bishop.
“The club has worked so hard to bring about such brilliant new facilities at the Victory Ground, and it deserves to be playing in the Premier League.
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“So it was a relief for me, and for everyone, that we avoided relegation with one game still to go, which is something we would certainly have settled for half-way through the season!
“I think we have done well to stay in the league, after such a poor first half of the season.
“The team has strung together some very impressive results, over the last couple of months, led superbly by our captain, Michael Comber.
“Michael has led by example, and has been a breath of fresh air. He took six wickets last weekend (against Frinton), and the week before he scored a century (124 not out) in the win at Burwell.
“He demands that the team practises hard, on Tuesdays and on Fridays, and he has brought fresh ideas to the set-up,” added Bishop.
Bury-born Bishop, who turns 34 next January, has been a prolific left-hand batsman and left-arm medium-fast bowler throughout his distinguished career. He also played for England Under-19s.
A teacher at County Upper School, in the town, he only lives 100 yards or so from the Victory Ground, so the cricket club is something that has always been close to his heart.
“My Dad (Keith Bishop) played for the club for about 40 years, and I’ve been involved since the age of seven,” recalled Bishop.
“Even when I was away playing for Essex, I would always come back as often as I could to play my club cricket with Bury.
“I’ve always been a one-club man.”
Always a positive cricketer, Bishop played 25 first-class matches for Essex, between 1999 and 2005.
He went on to become a regular in the Suffolk side, making his debut against Cumberland in August, 2005, and took over as Suffolk County captain as a successor to Phil Caley in 2009.
“I’ll obviously have mixed emotions this weekend, playing my final game for the club at Cambridge Granta,” admitted Bishop.
“Last Saturday was a great occasion, playing my final home game. But my body has basically made the decision for me, to retire.
“My back, knees and ankles have all hurt while bowling this year, so it’s the right time to call it a day.
“And my wife and I are also expecting our first child, so my priorities will change.
“However, I will continue to be a member of the club, and will be coming down to support them in the years ahead.
“And who knows? Perhaps my son or daughter will one day play for Bury as well!
“I think the club is in good hands. There are so many good young players coming through the Academy, players like Ben Curran, who has opened the innings all season in the Premier League, at the age of just 16.
“And the club will always be close to my heart,” added Bishop.