Riaz jets into record books by reaching 1,100 Premier runs then flies home!

Fazian Riaz - the first batsman to score 1,000 Premier runs since 1997
Fazian Riaz - the first batsman to score 1,000 Premier runs since 1997

FAIZAN Riaz has a permanent place in Premier Division history after slamming an unbeaten 151 in Plymouth’s narrow six-run win over Sandford.

The Pakistani all-rounder, who flew home yesterday to join his Islamabad team-mates for the domestic season ahead, need 41 runs in the game to reach a thousand for summer.

No Premier Division batsman has scored a thousand runs in a season since the league reduced the Premier fixture list from 22 to 18 games in 1999.

It was pretty rare in a 22-game season to reach 1,000 runs, although it was done six times between 1983 and 1998.

Others may do it in future, but Riaz will always be the first.

Riaz wasn’t far away last season as he made 922 runs in his maiden campaign at Mount Wise.

Having clouted five tons and five more 50s in 16 trips to the crease, Riaz finished with 1,110 league runs at an average of 92.50. He took 29 wickets too, so it would be no surprise if Plymouth try to bring back the 30-year-old all-rounder next season.

Jon Varcoe, the Plymouth skipper, said: “Faz has been outstanding for the last two years and must up there as one of the best players to ever play in the Devon League. 

“Not only has he contributed runs but also wickets, which have gone under the radar.

“He loves it here in Plymouth and we'll have to wait and see if he's back next year.”

Plymouth had no pressure on them going into the match – they are destined to finish fourth - but it was a different story as far as Sandford were concerned.

Sandford were and still are scrapping for their Premier Division survival and chased 275 to win almost to the bitter end.

Nineteen to win from the final over bowled by Joe Hagan-Burt proved too many for Sandford, who finished on 268 for eight.

Riaz – 20 fours, one six and 131 balls faced – had support from James Burke (33) and Hal Kerton (29) in stands of 63 and 87 respectively.

Sandford found wickets hard to buy, although Chris Jelley won’t have been too unhappy with his three for 39 after drinks.

Sandford, locked in combat with Bradninch to avoid relegation alongside Hatherleigh, had no alternative but to chase hard.

Neil Bettis (58) and Faisal Iqbal (51) put on 94 taking Sandford to 142 for three. After a mini-slump to 165 for six, Jelley (34) and Charles Fitzroy (37no) resumed the chase.

Losing Jelley then Jamie Palmer to Sam Stein (4-49) slowed Sandford to 216 for eight. Still they kept going with Fitzoy and tail-ender Pete Steer (31no) taking it to the last over.

Bonus points put Sandford level with Bradninch in the bottom three and imbued skipper Richard Foan with confidence for one last chance.

“It is going be a tough one but, as I have said before, we will fight for ever point and the great escape is still on the cards,” said Foan.

“It was a real shame we did not get over the line, but it was a great effort to get that close against a decent bowling attack. 

“Fitzroy and Steer took it to the wire and nearly pulled off a great result. 

“We bowled pretty well but came up against what I would say was one of the best innings I have seen at Sandford.

“Riaz hit the ball to every part of the ground and didn't give us a chance.”