ECB National Club t20 holders Wimbledon are one of four teams through to the televised Finals Day at The Kia Oval on Friday September 13.
Following the Regional Finals there are some new and familiar teams in the four, including the reigning champions from 12 months ago.
Wimbledon booked their local trip with a comfortable win over West of England Premier League side Frocester by 42 runs. The fact that play got started at Wimbledon after the torrential rain the club had for the previous 24 hours was mainly thanks to the All England Club lending the club groundstaff blowers and a motorised mop, normally used during the Wimbledon Championships, to dry the very wet outfield and square to enable the tie to go ahead with only a 30 minutes delay.
Wimbledon once again had last year’s final’s man of the match and captain Neil Turk to thank for getting their innings off to a great start after the hosts were put into bat. Turk hit 47 off 33 balls and enjoyed partnerships of 65 with fellow opener Chris Benham (31 off 16 balls) and then 55 with Graham Grace (42 from 37 balls).
Once both Turk and Grace were dismissed Frocester mounted something of a recovery with some quick wickets, Mike Lewis starring with the ball with figures of 4-23 from his four overs - but Wimbledon still reached a testing 176 for eight.
Frocester captain Nick Trainor (40 from 38 balls) and wicketkeeper Sam Bracey (33 from 28 balls) enjoyed a partnership of 60 after the visitors lost Uzi Qureshi and Michael Beard early in their reply, both off the bowling of Mark Smith. It was the introduction of Seb Franke-Matthecka into the Surrey Championship side’s bowling attack that broke the partnership as he first had Bracey out lbw before having Trainor caught by Smith.
Smith then returned to the bowling attack to claim two more wickets to finish with figures of 4-14 from his four overs as Frocester finished on 134 for eight.
Chester-le-Street made it a hat-trick of appearances at the Finals Day and will hope better than they did in 2012, when they were knocked out in the semi-final, and 2011 when they were beaten in a one-sided final against Ealing by 10 wickets. Chester-le-Street welcomed Pudsey Congs from the Bradford League to the North East and after winning the toss the hosts chose to bat.
This decision looked a sensible one as the opening pair of Simon Birtwisle (64 from 55 balls) and Andrew Smith (58 from 27 balls) put on 102 for the first wicket before Smith was dismissed by Eddie Walmsley. This brought John Coxon to the wicket and he put on a further 52 with Birtwisle before the opener was trapped lbw by Barber Butt.
This sparked a flurry of wickets as Chester-le-Street looked for quick runs at the end of their innings and Butt took full advantage by adding a further four wickets to his haul to finish with impressive figures of 5-17 from his four overs as the North East Premier League side finished on an imposing 185 for seven.
Pudsey Congs lost captain Gareth Phillips for a golden duck as he was run out by Liam Simpson and fellow opener Butt was bowled by Chester-le-Street captain Quentin Hughes for seven as the visitors reply faltered early on.
Callum Geldart did his best to drag the Yorkshire side back into the game with 52 from 35 balls but batting partners struggled to stick around with only three other Congs batsmen reaching double figures.
Hughes (3-20), Simpson (2-16) and David Foster (2-25) took wickets at regular intervals as Pudsey Congs were all out for 112 in the 18th over.
Ormskirk will make their first appearance in the Finals Day as the Liverpool & District Competition side beat Hyde of the Cheshire Premier League by just one run. Ormskirk chose to bat first and openers Ian Robinson and Matthew Glayzer put on 64 for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed for 28 from 15 balls. After Liam Hurt was quickly sent back to the pavilion Robinson was joined by John Armstrong and they put on a further 43 to move the score onto 109 for two.
Armstrong and Robinson quickly fell and a flurry of wickets followed, Tom Young being the pick of the Hyde bowlers with 3-12 from four overs as the hosts reached 141 for seven from their 20 overs.
Hyde had a disastrous start to their reply as they lost both Danny Berry and Chris Tipper for golden ducks but this brought James Duffy to the crease to join captain Tom Twiney and this pair added 120 for the third wicket. Hyde were cruising to their target but both Twiney (45 from 47 balls) and Duffy (74 from 52 balls) were run out and this created some panic in the visitors’ dressing room.
Two further dismissals, including another run out, left Hyde needing seven off the final over but some tight bowling left Hyde one run short and Ormskirk progressed to Finals Day.
The fourth team there will be Banbury who have made this stage of the competition for the first time in their history. The Home Counties Premier League side travelled to Peterborough Town and chose to bowl first and it was the hosts who lost two quick wickets as both Asim Butt and Ashley Roberts were sent back to the pavilion by Ashley Blanchard.
David Clarke and Callum French moved the score on for Peterborough but the Northamptonshire Premier League side were once again pegged back as those two batsmen were both caught by John West. Paul McMahon (26) and Rob Sayer (34) put together a useful partnership but after they were dismissed the hosts only made 107 for seven, but on a difficult batting surface.
Banbury had opener Craig Haupt dismissed early in their reply but Nathan Hawkes and wicketkeeper Jonathan Carter helped steady the ship. But after Hawkes (28) and Carter (20) were out, a mini collapse saw Lloyd Sabin and West quickly dismissed. Luke Ryan and Ian Tew once again calmed down the run chase but the tension rose again after McMahon removed both batsmen.
But it was the calm batting of Justin Lambden and Blanchard that guided the Oxfordshire side home to win by three wickets with just two balls remaining.
The schedule for matches at Finals Day, which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, is:
Semi Final 1 – Wimbledon v Banbury (12:30pm)
Semi Final 2 – Chester le Street v Ormskirk (3:30pm)
Final – Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (7:00pm)