Wales take U15 title
Wales saw off the challenge of Cheshire, Warwickshire and Northants to be crowned ECB U15 County Champions after finals week at Oundle School.
The first day of the Finals Festival, Wednesday August 15, saw the weather once again this season prove to be the winner. It started to rain at 2:20pm and it was not possible to complete the two matches and as 20 overs had not been bowled in the second innings the matches were abandoned.
Northants had scored 180 for nine against Warwickshire who were 13 for two at the suspension of play. Wales, having restricted Cheshire to 189 for nine (Andy Murphy 62, Daniel Roberts 5-22), were 39 for one off 10 overs when the rains called a halt to the action on the main pitch.
Thursday saw a marked improvement in the weather and complete matches were played. Cheshire batted against Northants with Ed Stubbs opening and scoring 48. From the riches of 106 for two there was a dramatic collapse to 134 for nine with Joe Fox taking 3-13 and Tom Seckington 3-34.
Cheshire’s number eight, Ross Dixon (54 not out), then led a fightback with valuable support from Chris Connolly (9 not out) as the last pair added an unbeaten 46 with the innings closing on 180 for nine.
In reply Northants steadily lost wickets and once Sam Kumar was out for 59 their last realistic chance of winning had gone. Northants settled for an honourable draw with their innings closing on 154 for seven.
Wales won the toss and elected to bat against Warwickshire. The Welsh were quickly in trouble at 23 for three as the Warwickshire opening bowlers bowled superbly in tandem. Gareth Partridge (24) and Gareth Thomas (65) set about repairing the damage and Wales were able to declare on 170 for five.
Warwickshire looked to be heading to victory with the score on 94 for one. Ateeq Javid (59) and Usman Shabir (50) leading the potential victory charge. But with both players losing their wickets the complexion of the match changed and the Welsh bowlers and fielders began to exert considerable pressure on their opponents.
At 156 for six Warwickshire were still favourites but three wickets fell for the addition of only three runs and the last wicket pair were only able to add nine leaving Wales winners of an exciting match by two runs.
In the final round of matches played on the Friday, Cheshire batted first on the main ground against Warwickshire and with the Warwickshire opening bowlers, Getkate and Gordon, bowling aggressively the Cheshire batting was soon in trouble.
Getkate returned impressive figures of 3-28 from the eight overs he bowled during the innings. Mannan Nawaz bowled tightly throughout the latter part of the innings and Cheshire struggled to 119 all out in the 47th over. This gave Warwickshire extra overs available to them in their run chase.
However, their batting was soon in disarray as they collapsed to 36 for six. Opener Kester Moseley (22) and Tom Milnes (32) then brought some sanity to the proceedings as they tried to rebuild the innings. This match then became a highly intense encounter, as only low-scoring games can be, as the ascendancy swung from one side to the other.
At 79 for six Warwickshire looked to be edging towards a highly unlikely victory but then Moseley and Milnes were out within 11 runs of each other. F Malkin made a valiant attempt to edge Warwickshire towards victory but his obdurate resistance was finally broken when Hurworth claimed his wicket to enable Cheshire to win by eight runs.
Whilst this tense, low-scoring match was taking place Wales were building the highest total of the Festival on the back pitch. They made steady progress towards lunch and at 117 for three looked well placed for a good score. Opener Imran Hassan scored 55 but two more wickets fell leaving them on 137 for five.
Then Gareth Thomas (69 not out) came to the fore as the Welsh picked up the scoring rate to close on 234 for six off the maximum 57 overs available to the side batting first.
In reply, Northamptonshire got off to a good start with Sam Kumar scoring 55 but once he was run out wickets fell regularly. Form 147 for four Northants found the pressure of the run chase too much and Gareth Thomas bowled well inviting the batsmen to hit him over the top – the challenge was taken up but three batsmen perished to catches in the deep and Gareth finished with 5-46.
Northants ended up being dismissed for 183 as they tried in vain to make a charge for the victory that would have lifted them into one of the top spots in the final table.
By virtue of their two victories Wales were crowned as Champions with Cheshire claiming the runners-up spot as a result of their tense win over Warwickshire, Northants came third and Warwickshire had to be satisfied with fourth spot after their unsuccessful run chase on the last day.
Scorecard - Northamptonshire U15 v Warwickshire U15 (85 KB)
Scorecard - Cheshire U15 v Wales U15 (85 KB)
Scorecard - Cheshire U15 v Northamptonshire U15 (86 KB)
Scorecard - Wales U15 v Warkwickshire U15 (86 KB)
Scorecard - Cheshire U15 v Warwickshire U15 (87 KB)
Scorecard - Northamptonshire U15 v Wales U15 (85 KB)