Cup glory for Hampshire
Hampshire’s win in the Under-17 County Cup was reward for a long season of good performances, according to coach Charlie Freeston.
Freeston, who directs the team alongside former Hampshire batsman Tony Middleton, said: “It’s a great result and a good reward for a good season. The lads have played very well.”
Hampshire took the trophy with a tense three-wicket win over their Durham counterparts in the final at Kibworth, Leicestershire.
In a match reduced to 42 overs per side due to rain, Hampshire chased down 195 although late wickets from the Durham attack set up a nervous finish.
With James Halson (49) and Ollie Mills (26) seemingly steering the side serenely towards victory, Durham mounted a dramatic comeback, dismissing both the set batsmen and then Lewis McManus in quick succession.
But with nerves jangling on both sides, Hampshire’s Ryan Scott and captain James Haggaty eventually knocked off the runs with an over to spare.
“The partnership between James Halson and Ollie Mills was a great partnership – probably a match-winning partnership, but when those wickets started to tumble we did get a bit nervous,” said Freeston.
Durham had recovered to 195 from 136 for seven although they looked set for far more after the first 11 overs when they had raced to 70 for two.
Regular wickets from all the Hampshire bowlers limited the Durham total to set up a close game and opening pair Jake George and Rob Gibson shared a half century stand to put the chase on track.
Although both fell quickly, the partnership between Halson and Green eventually put the game out of Durham’s reach.
Freeston was keen to add that the chance to play in national finals was part of the broader process of developing young talent.
“When you get to the final you want to win,” he said. “The results are nice and it’s great for the lads, but actually developing these players and preparing them for professional cricket is what it’s all about.”