The Group Finals of the ECB National Club Championship threw up a number of upsets as both the reigning champions and the 2012 runners up were knocked out of the competition.
York, who convincingly won the 2012 final at Derbyshire CCC, fell thanks to a rear-guard batting performance from Doncaster Town’s tail, a disciplined visitors bowling display and, probably more crucially than anything else, the weather.
York would have expected to have comfortably come through this Fourth Round tie against fellow their Yorkshire Premier League side having restricted Doncaster Town to 28 for five, mainly thank to Matthew Hodson, who finished with 3-26 from his nine overs. The recovery came thanks to small but meaningful contributions from the lower order, no-one getting more than 30, but moved the total onto 136 all out, a small score to defend and one that York would fancy getting.
York got off to a slow start and when usual power-hitter Oliver Hairs fell for just seven their innings never gained any momentum. At 87 for four after 29 overs the rains came and never relented enough to restart play, meaning Doncaster Town progressed to the last 16 thanks to having a superior run rate.
Waltham travelled to Wanstead & Snaresbrook and knocked out the 2012 runners-up thanks to a great all-round display by Khawar Ali Kazmi. He hit an unbeaten 65 as Waltham recovered from 56 for four to post a score of 213 for seven from their 45 overs before taking 3-25 from his nine overs as they bowled out the hosts for 170 to move into the Fifth Round for the first time since 2008.
Kishen Velani’s attempts to win the game for Wanstead & Snaresbrook came unstuck thanks to a great catch by Naeem Amin behind the stumps when on 57, and the hosts’ reply faltered as Waltham moved on to host Hartley County Club from Kent in the last 16, after they comfortably came through a trip to the south coast against Eastbourne by 166 runs.
In Lancashire, 2012 semi-finalists Bamford Fieldhouse travelled to Windsor Park to take on Northern Premier League side Chorley, and it was the hosts who ran out comfortable winners in front of a large crowd.
Put into bat, Bamford Fieldhouse struggled to contain the Chorley bowling attack and only had two batsmen reach double figures; their total of 120 all out mainly thanks to Grant Hodnett’s 51, with Will Moulton taking 4-30. In reply Ian Dickinson produced a masterful batting performance as his 80 not out steered the hosts to their target with 27 balls to spare by six wickets to book a trip to 2011 champions Shrewsbury in Round Five.
Elsewhere, Bilal Shafayat was again in the runs in this competition as his West Indian Cavaliers side beat fellow Nottinghamshire Premier League side Cuckney by 56 runs, Shafayat’s run-a-ball 73 helped post a total of 219 for eight, before he took two wickets as current league leaders Cuckney were dismissed for 163.
Bath comfortably beat their West of England Premier League rivals Bristol by 105 runs helped by captain Robin Lett’s 62 and Jonathan Green’s 3-31 to book a trip to Cornwall in the Fifth Round against either Truro or Werrington (who are not playing until next weekend).
And 2012 semi-finalists Havant moved into the last 16 after beating Totton & Eling in the Southern Premier League derby match by 55 runs. Robert Green hit 93 before some impressive lower-order hitting by Steven Matthews (64 not out off 36 balls) and Simon Loat (23 not out from 15 balls) helped the hosts post 288 for eight. In reply, Totton & Eling were always behind the required rate, and despite 58 from captain David Taylor they lost by 55 runs.
Bowdon enjoyed a narrow home win over Wallasey by eight runs despite an impressive bowling performance by the visitors’ Liam Crilly (4-20), Ormskirk thrashed Kendal by 118 runs thanks to keeper Gary Knight hitting 72 to book a trip to West Indian Cavaliers - and Middlesex League Ealing overcame Surrey Premier League side Spencer by 31 runs in a low-scoring contest.
The Fifth Round will take place on Sunday July 14, for a full list of the results from the Group Finals please go to http://ecb.play-cricket.com/scoreboard/results.asp.