47 years ago the sixteen elite cricket schools were asked to play in a knock-out competition. A year later, the invitation was extended to 32 schools. Cranleigh was not one. When Blundells withdrew from the competition, Cranleigh were selected as their replacement and so became the first new school in the Cup for almost 40 years. Some have questioned why they were not included in the original cohort, perhaps the late, great Old Cranleighan E. W. Swanton would have been privileged to understand the decision making but either way none will argue that since their inclusion they have demonstrated that times have changed.
Playing in their third final in eight years, on the 17th August 2014, at Wimbledon Cricket Club, Cranleigh secured their first Cricketer Cup win with a team that will be available and strengthen for many years to come.
The day started with broken and gloomy cloud which threatened to ruin a day which had been meticulously planned and gloriously prepared by Wimbledon Cricket Club. As a venue, it is the best since Burton Court and probably the best for a cricket event such as this.
The toss was won by Bradfield who elected to bowl. Will Kendall, a significant player at the highest level with nothing to prove and a three time Cricketer Cup winner, fought off injury to lead the Waifs. They fielded a strong side despite a few of their players preferring to play minor counties cricket and following a short rain delay, opened with hostility and accuracy. Cranleigh lost Jack Scriven after a short flurry allowing Kenyan international Duncan Allen to join his national team mate Seren Waters and steady the ship. Sensible batting took the score to 52 when the dangerous Waters was snaffled for a solid 34. At 52 for 2 off 14 overs the game was finely balanced.
Alan Cope joined Allen and turned the game. Bradfield bowled and fielded well but offered the two batsmen little trouble as they accumulated runs at will and pushed the score on to 182 for 2 off 40 overs. Cranleigh were well set and should have turned a great foundation into a mammoth total. Allen went for 63 and a quick flurry of wickets pulled the momentum back towards Bradfield taking the score to 199 for 5 in the 43rd. Cope, however, played a innings of rare maturity and demonstrated that his undisputed talent can win matches despite the mounting pressure. Simply put he played as good an innings as any Cranleighan has seen him play as he guided OCs to 243 making 98 in the process falling just short of his hundred as he was caught off the last ball of the innings as the eighth wicket. Riazuddin and Smithson each took 3 wickets with Riazuddin the pick returning figures of 3 for 31 from his quota.
The Waifs innings started badly with a wicket in the first over and despite small partnerships, wickets fell regularly. At 57-6 off 24 overs most thought the game over despite some determined batting in Curran Gaur’s 35. Enter, Craig Williams. If Chris Gayle was right handed, white, slightly portly and wore glasses you may have been forgiven for thinking that he had attended Bradfield. Instead Williams possibly more Garfield than Gayle demonstrated what was needed from the top order.
He was simply outstanding, batting with both aggression and intelligence. He rotated the strike cleverly making the most of his fellow tailenders and brought the crowd to life with soaring sixes. Scoring double digit overs almost at will, the crowd suddenly stopped asking for free champagne and murmurs of the impossible started to circulate. Having launched Waters for 21 off an over, he needed 80 off the last 7. The new Cranleigh headmaster was noticed adjusting his seating position.
Had he featured higher up the order, perhaps things would have been different but the task was just too great despite putting on 152 for the last three wickets. Williams finished unbeaten on 104 his hundred coming off only 83 balls and is one of only 5 hundreds ever scored in a final.
In the end, Cranleigh’s opening pair of Rollings and Crump were too miserly early on never really letting Bradfield into the game. Rollings the pick of the day’s bowlers with figures of 3 for 25 spanning two good spells.. The mounting pressure resulted in wickets falling regularly and shared amongst the bowlers.
Final result: Cranleigh by 34 runs, a new name on the trophy.
The game was played in great spirit and thanks must go to our sponsors Carol Lorenz, an independent Herbalife distributor, and Lanson champagne and of course Wimbledon Cricket Club who generously provide the ground. The day is fast becoming an event to attend whether or not your team is in the final.