Lutterworth edge tight regional final
Lutterworth came through the Midlands Regional Finals of the ECB’s National Indoor Six-a-side Championship at Edgbaston to take their place in the Lord’s finals.
The four teams contesting the Regional Finals for a place at Lord’s on Sunday March 18 were Flitwick (Beds), Kington (Hereford), Godmanchester Town (Hunts) and Lutterworth (Leics) who had all progressed to this stage by becoming Champions in their respective county and then winning through a play-off round.
The first match was played between Flitwick and Lutterworth, Lutterworth won the toss and invited Flitwick to bat first. Flitwick started very well with Gurney and Carter laying the foundations for a competitive score.
Keen fielding by Lutterworth helped keep the score within reasonable bounds with two run-outs proving crucial in checking the run rate at vital stages of the innings. The bowlers managed to put a vital break on the scoring rate towards the end of the innings – Twist hit the last ball of the innings for the only six - but despite this only 24 runs were added in the last three overs.
Flitwick’s innings closed on a 124 for five with Carter top scoring with 32 and Gurney contributing 21 before being run out. Lutterworth’s youth policy was shining through with Jeff Baxter keeping wicket in exemplary fashion belying his age – Jeff is well known as a key member of Leicestershire’s Over 50’s team!
In reply Lutterworth were struggling a little on 41 for three after only four overs, Pabari having just fallen for 21. Although they were well up with the run-rate they had already lost half their side. Sensible batting by Rayner (20), Smith (35 not out) and Baxter (20 not out) proved how vital it is to bat out the overs as they steered their side home by two wickets with five balls to spare.
The second semi proved to be just as pulsating a match. Yet again the side winning the toss batted second preferring to know what target they were chasing. Kington got off to a flyer thanks to a very fast but extremely wayward over by Swannell. Despite the batsmen being in trouble with the pace and bounce the score had advanced to 18 thanks to six extra balls being required to complete this first over!
The match then changed complexion dramatically when Symonds was hit a vicious blow on the side of his head and was forced to retire hurt. After that Kington struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over and keen fielding resulted in three run-outs. Despite Godmanchester gifting their opponents 22 runs in wides and no-balls the total at the close of the innings was only 101 for five. Butterworth top scored with 26 before being one of the run-out victims.
Godmanchester’s innings followed a similar pattern to Lutterworth’s in the first match and found themselves struggling on 41 for four after four overs, two run-outs certainly not helping their cause at this early stage of the innings.
Sensible batting by Bradley (11) and Baldwin (26 not out) set the innings back on track and Moynan (43 not out) returned to finish off the run chase with Baldwin. Godmanchester passing the Kington total with two overs to spare to win by two wickets.
The final proved to be the most exciting match of an already highly charged day. Once again the wayward nature of the bowling had a significant bearing on the size of the totals posted with 38 runs in the match coming from wides and no-balls!
Lutterworth batted first and once again demonstrated the value of keeping their wickets intact; rather than going for big shots they worked the ball around and ran fast and sensibly. The key contributors to their total of 131 for three were Wilson (34 not out), Bhutta (25 not out) and the evergreen Baxter (25 not out).
As this was the highest score of the day it looked as if Godmanchester would struggle in reply. With eight overs gone and the score at 87 for four it certainly looked as if Lutterworth were in the driving seat and two run-outs looked as if they prove to be significant dismissals.
Bradley had other ideas and took the game to his opponents scoring an impressive 39. Lutterworth were in danger of self destructing as they gifted 24 extras to their opponents. Another run out increased the tension. Pabari came on to bowl the last over with Godmanchester on 121 for five – one wicket left and 11 needed looked a tall order considering the keen Lutterworth fielding.
Wayward bowling then came even more to the fore. After bowling four deliveries Godmanchester’s score was standing on 130 – but only one delivery had been a legitimate one so five balls still remained in the over. The next ball was pushed into the netting on the off-side to level the scores but for some inexplicable reason the batsmen ran and an accurate throw enabled Jeff Baxter to whip off the bails with the runner well short of his ground.
Godmanchester were all out for 131. Lutterworth, despite being their own worst enemies, had been able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by virtue of losing fewer wickets.
Thanks go to Ken Horden and Ken Fill who umpired throughout the day. Special mention should be made of the superb hospitality shown to all parties by Nick Archer and his staff at the Indoor School at Edgbaston.
Flitwick (124-5) lost to Lutterworth (126-4) by two wickets
Kington (101-5) lost to Godmanchester Town (103-4) by two wickets
Lutterworth (131-3) beat Godmanchester Town (131 all out) by virtue of losing fewer wickets