Ealing cap remarkable season
Ealing CC topped off a remarkable season as they beat Sunbury by two wickets to win the Evening Standard Challenge Trophy – and add it to a clean sweep of the top honours in the ECB Middlesex Premier League.
Playing in their fifth final during the 17 years of the competition and their fourth in a row, Ealing became the first club ever to win the trophy in successive years and with the Evening Standard having decided not to continue with the competition, they became the proud owners of the prestigious silver trophy.
In 2008 the west London club have also won the ECB Middlesex Premier League 1st XI for a record-breaking fourth year in a row, won the ECB Middlesex Premier League 2nd XI – and the ECB Middlesex Premier League 3rd XI competition.
Ealing have also won the Middlesex U17 league and cup, and it was fitting that the Trophy final was played at their Corfton Road ground having been rained off at The Brit Oval the previous weekend.
The final also proved to be a memorable swansong for skipper Luke Stoughton and Ian Blanchett. For Stoughton this was his final game in charge after three wonderful seasons and it was Blanchett’s final game for the club before his imminent departure for New Zealand.
The game was remarkable it that it swung from one side to the other and the final outcome was not decided until the third ball of the 100th and final over of the match.
Ignoring the fact that they had won all five of their previous games in the competition by batting first, Stoughton hopeful of making full use of the rain affected wicket, elected to field first on winning the toss, a decision that he might well have had second thoughts about such was the comfortable start made by the Sunbury opening pair John Maunders and Toby Roland-Jones.
Maunders, fresh from the 62 he made during the week for Essex playing against Northamptonshire in the championship, before falling to the bowling of Monty Panesar was in particularly fine form as he and his partner reached 135 without loss after 29 overs.
At this stage, it looked likely that Ealing would be facing a target of something in excess of 250, but the introduction of off spinner Sameer Patel brought them the breakthrough they were looking for as Roland-Jones holed out on the long off boundary to Tahir Afridi for a well made 60.
Two balls later Patel had Adam London lbw bringing Middlesex player David Nash to the wicket to join Maunders. However, Nash soon departed bowled by Patel and when Steve Atherton had the Sunbury skipper Olly Roland-Jones caught behind the wicket by Ned Eckersley, the Sunbury innings had slumped to 157 for four.
Charlie Holcomb joined Maunders and these two took the score to 185 before Patel dismissed Holcom and keeper Stuart Poynter in quick succession to finish with the remarkable figures of 5-28 in his allotted 10 overs.
With five overs remaining and with Maunders still at the wicket, Sunbury must still have had hopes of a score of around the 220 mark but the re-introduction of Chris Peploe saw the departure of Maunders, caught at cover by David Holt for a well made 102.
At the commencement of the final over, the Sunbury score stood at 200 for seven, but a run out and two wickets of the final two balls of the innings saw Sunbury all out for 202, having lost all ten of their wickets in the final 21overs for just 77 runs.
Ealing’s innings got off to a poor start when Patel was well caught by John Lyons running back from cover in the second over but Simon Hawk was joined by Peploe and these two in the next ten overs rattled the score up to 69, well above the required run rate.
Peploe was then stumped as he slipped whilst aiming a big hit against London and when Hawk and Eckersley, needlessly run out after a mix up with Rajesh Rao, quickly followed to the pavilion Ealing had slumped to 75 for four.
Rao was joined by David Holt and these two playing cautiously added 16 before Rao was bowled with the score at 91. This brought skipper Stoughton to the wicket in the 22nd over with Ealing needing 112 runs to win at exactly four an over, the same rate as when their innings commenced.
Stoughton and Holt carefully added 25 in the next 11 overs before Holt skied a simple catch to Nash at short fine leg. Blanchett joined the skipper with the run rate now up to almost five an over and these two maintained the run rate until the score reached 155 when Stoughton was yorked after making a very important 35.
When big-hitting Leigh Parry succumbed to the first ball he received in the next over, Ealing were at 156 for eight and the Sunbury team and their supporters must have felt that they had one hand on the trophy.
Blanchett was joined by opening bowler Tahir Afridi with 57 needed from nine overs. Three runs came off each of the next two overs before Blanchett in the 44th over brought the excitement in the ground to fever pitch as he hit Adam Stanier for six high over the sightscreen into Woodville Gardens.
With every run being greeted by cheers by the Ealing supporters, the 46th and 47th over were proving to be decisive as Blanchett and Afridi took 20 runs from them leaving Ealing needing nine runs for victory from the last three overs.
Now not needing to play any big shots, sensible running between the two batsmen narrowed the target down to three being needed from the last over and three singles from the first three balls of the final over saw Ealing home to a famous victory.
At the award ceremony after the game, the bowler of the match award went to Sameer Patel and Maunders won the batsman of the match award but in a very sporting gesture passed the award over to Blanchett in recognition of his match winning innings of 45 not out.