CLASS act professional Brett Pelser admits he can’t wait for Sunday’s Worsley Cup final and reckons it’s the biggest game he has played in during his time in England – but the South African insists the showpiece isn’t about him.
The 29-year-old Rawtenstall paid man is relishing the clash with holders Burnley and says the game is a fitting tribute to the hard work carried out behind the scenes at the Worswick Memorial Ground which has had a turnround in fortunes over the past 18 months.
When Pelser made the switch from Northern League side Leyland, Rawtenstall were in the middle of a torrid spell that saw them lose 16 straight games over two seasons, a run that followed a miserable few years and he laughed: “If someone had offered me a Worsley Cup final within two years of signing I would have laughed them out of the room.
“I knew about the recent history of Rawtenstall and I obviously knew about their run of results but now people are talking about us for the right reasons.
“But this transformation isn’t down to me. This is down to people like skipper Vinny Hanson and the older players and the people off the field. There is a good work ethic and all I try to do as professional is to teach the players how to win games without me.
“If I can do that I have done my job – and in the semi-final win that’s pretty much what they did because I ddn’t score any runs in a big chase.”
Pelser, who is a regular in franchise cricket back home for Highveld Lions, admits the fever pitch build-up for the Worsley Cup is something that has taken him by surprise and believes that makes the competition one on its own.
“You don’t get this back home,” he said. “And I have never seen anything like it during my time playing in England.
“Every league has its own cup final and people want to win the game – but the Worsley Cup is something else.
“Ever since we beat Lowerhouse in the semi-final it’s all people have talked about – and not just at Rawtenstall.
“People from other clubs are wishing us luck and there is a real buzz about it. You always want to win leagues but this cup is special and it will be the biggest game I have played in while in England.”
And coping with the occasion as well as the cricket is where Pelser sees his main job on Sunday.
“The amateurs are not used to games like this with the crowd and the occasion,” he said. “But I need to instill into the players their jobs. It is about playing Burnley, not the crowd as difficult as that may sound with the noise and atmosphere.
“You set yourself up to pair each player with one of the opposition so for instance I do battle with the opposition pro and my job is to outscore and take more wickets than him.
“You try to get those matches within the match right and set that target – and if they all win their battles you win the game.
“But whatever the outcome Sunday will be a special day for everyone involved.”