Double delight for Kent
Kent secured a wonderful league and cup double when they beat Durham to win the Under-17 County Cup on Sunday.
The beaten finalists were, once again, Durham. The final was a repeat of the County Championship final played at Arundel ten days before as Kent proved to be too strong for their northern opponents.
On this occasion there were no concerns about the weather forecast so Durham batted first and made an excellent start with Ben Raine (77) and Joe Coyne (14) scoring well.
Raine took centre stage as he pounded anything short through the midwicket area. The Kent seamers did not have any answer to this onslaught as the opening partnership reached 68 in 13 overs.
Coyne was eventually caught behind off the first ball of spin but Durham continued to build a good score until Raine fell to Chris Piesley when a loose shot offered a catch to short extra which was pouched safely by Adam Ball.
The wicket slowed the Durham scoring as the Kent spinners started to stifle the runs.
When Fabian Cowdrey came into the attack in the 38th over the complexion of the match changed further. Ramanpreet Singh was bowled for 43 with the total on 173 for three and then Durham wickets started to fall as they pressed to increase the scoring rate and post a good total.
An attempt at a sharp single saw Usman Arshad run out by a direct hit from Cowdrey and with the score now at 192 for six Kent had the upper hand. Charlie MacLeod then made two exceptionally smart stumpings as Durham were bowled out for 216 with Cowdrey finishing with impressive figures of 5-21 from six overs.
When Kent batted it was obvious that the wicket was still playing well as Daniel Bell-Drummond (11) and Chris Vernon (68) started the innings at an impressive rate.
Bell-Drummond made a fatal error by playing back to a ball from Josh Bousfield and was hit on the shin in front of middle stump - probably one of the easiest decisions Rob Bailey has had to make all season.
With Piesley run out for ten and then an outstanding catch made by Coyne to dismiss Cowdrey (21) the game was interestingly poised at 82 for three, but as Durham had only bowled 15 overs at this stage more inroads into the batting were needed.
Adam Ball then came to join Chris Vernon and the pair added 109 in 24 overs to put Kent in an impregnable position.
With the score on 191 Vernon was caught behind by Tom Hodgson off Matthew Sampson-Barnes who had been the pick of the Durham bowlers, but by then Kent were in the driving seat needing 26 off 11 overs.
Lorne Burns and Ball (79*) made sure that no further wickets fell as Kent eased to victory by six wickets with five overs to spare.
The presentations were made to the teams by ex-England and Notts player Eddie Hemmings and Paul Johnson who had also played for Notts and England A.
Hemmings was able to enjoy a dual role as he is also the groundsman for Caythorpe CC and was congratulated by all for producing such an excellent playing surface.
“This is a marvellous achievement from the players," said coach Steve Salisbury.
"They are a great side; they haven’t just won these games this season; they have won them by a heavy margin. We naturally want them to have a professional urge and we want them to have pride in their performance. They have done that and continue to impress.
"This is a first. Nobody has ever recorded the league and cup double before, in the same season, so this is quite an achievement. I’m delighted for everyone involved.
“There have been numerous positives. The style in which the boys played has probably been the most pleasing aspect. The lads only lost one game, right throughout the summer, and a number of them have played for the second team. We are very proud and Kent has a bright future with the displays being shown by so many promising youngsters.”