PUDDLETOWN have sealed promotion to County Division One – without bowling a ball.

Adam Barrett’s men have risen to Dorset’s second tier after Shillingstone took voluntary relegation to Division Two.

Puddletown have now tasted promotion for three successive seasons – minus the Covid-affected 2020 campaign.

It means despite finishing third in Division Two in 2019, the last fully-completed season, Puddletown will mix it with Weymouth and Portland Red Triangle in 2021.

Central to the rapid rise of the club have been star batsman James Mitchell, talented all-rounder Adam Weir and a strong support cast including all-rounder and former Dorchester footballer Tom Blair, Alby Stevens and Callum Chaldecott.

“We’re over the moon,” Barrett told Echosport. “It obviously came as a bit of a surprise.

“It all came about because Shillingstone asked to be relegated.

“We played Shillingstone last year in the Thank You NHS League that was set up, and we beat them quite comfortably (by eight wickets).

“Whether that had a deciding factor in it, I’m not too sure. They did mention they were losing a few players, maybe struggling a bit.

“Then Alan (Graham, Dorset Cricket Board) offered us the chance to go up and it was a no brainer for us.

“We think there was a bit of justice because they had that rule in Division Two where you get bonus points for having an umpire.

“Typical us being a bit stupid, it took us nine games to realise it’s actually going to make quite a big difference.

“If you take away all the bonus points, we would’ve won the league.”

Commenting on Puddletown’s third straight promotion, Barrett said: “I took over as captain in 2017 back in Division Four and we were second behind Shaftesbury.

“Then we were second again in Division Three behind Shaftesbury (in 2018) and in 2019 we finished third, so we’ve flown up the leagues.”

He added: “Some of the younger players have matured and new players have joined which has helped. It’s going really well.”

Blair has since moved to Eastleigh to fulfil his dream of professional football, and Barrett revealed he will miss the cricket season.

He said: “Unfortunately I don’t think we’re going to have Tom this year.

“His Eastleigh contract says he’s not allowed to play, which is a shame because he’s a really good player.

“But people like Mitch, he’s class. One of the best players I’ve seen in a Puddletown shirt, for sure.

“We’ve got Lucas Allen back, who didn’t play last season, which is a big bonus.

“Adam Weir’s been our mainstay player for a couple of seasons. He’s a serious talent, so overall we’ve got a good team.

“Hopefully, we’re looking to add a couple to that over the winter. We’ve got a few things in the pipeline, so we should be even stronger.

“We need a couple of bowlers to replace Tom and Callum does sports science so he’s managed to get a placement, which limits the amount of cricket he’s going to play.

“We’ve got a few players in mind that we’re going to try and speak to and see what their plans are. Hopefully it’ll work out well.”