Quarter Final Thrillers Lead to Mouth-Watering Semis
The weekend produced some of the closest games for some time. Standards were red hot as clubs fielded strong sides to book their place in the semi-finals.
Cheltenham at Cranleigh provided an absolute nail biter. Captain Brooksbank, despite being launched into the car park by Scriven, bowled well alongside the probing Kay who returned exceptional figures of 4-44 and restricting the much fancied Cranleighans to 60 for 4. Stuart Meaker currently of Surrey and occasionally England, was recalled to the Cranleigh squad and justified his place with a commanding 74 ably supported by Surrey 2nd XI player, Burgess’ 64 thus allowing Cranleigh to post a respectable 246-8 at their close. Cheltenham replied with authority, destroying former Kenya World Cup star, Seren Waters, leaving him with unflattering figures of 1 for 75. Always ahead of the run rate with contributions widespread and wickets in hand, Cheltenham would have been justified in allowing their no. 11 to change early but some tight bowling at the end held them back, leaving a final over with 10 to win. Cheltenham finished tantalisingly close but 2 runs short in a game packed with excitement and as commented by all present, played in a truly magnificent spirit.
Charterhouse the form side of the cup so far continued their campaign with a solid 5 wicket victory over Oundle whose 175 at the batter friendly Charterhouse was unlikely to stop Hamblin’s men. Star of the day ….. Having last won the cup in 2000, a thrilled Captain Hamblin appeared confident of their semi-final and local derby match up at Cranleigh. President Ullman was alleged to have commented “Having posted an easy win over the Cranleighans in pre-season, we are naturally confident, although I believe they have one or two good players.” With a new Headmaster and former Hampshire ace, James Bovill, as governor this may well be their year.
Malvern travelled to Bradfield and batting first were soon 2 for 2. Following some dynamic fielding and miserly bowling they finished on a below par 166-9. Malvern and Tonbridge are the only two teams to have maintained a cup win ratio of over 70% and we have seen them successfully defend small totals all too often. Their pressure inducing spinners brought Bradfield to the brink at 135-8 but a bold 9th wicket partnership sneaked Bradfield home by 1 wicket and the Peter Pan, Will Kendall, into another semi-final.
In the last of our quarter finals, at Winchester, there were two contrastingly-structured innings. Winchester won the toss and duly elected to bat. The openers Fellowes and Portz gave their team a good start putting 81 on the board but the Wykehamist batsmen were never able to fully capitalise against some steady spin bowling in the middle overs and nobody was able to post a big score. There was some impetus towards the end of the innings as Old Wykehamists ended with a just-about-par 235 for 9, the top score on the sheet being 43 by Cheetham at No. 3.
In contrast, despite White hitting a brisk 44, the Templars did not start well and were looking rocky at 68 for 4. At this stage, the Old Wykehamists would have more than fancied their chances. However at this point, Birkby (92*) and Lyon (75) took over. They started by consolidating the innings, running singles and keeping the scoreboard moving and then gradually went through the gears to achieve complete command, eventually putting on 167 for the 5th wicket and seeing the Templars to a comfortable victory by 5 wickets with an over or so to spare.
The semi-finals, on the 27th July, are set to an be exciting day with Cranleigh playing host to Charterhouse and Bradfield to Stowe. Both schools welcome guests and so will surely be a worthwhile day out.