Blaydon crowned champions
Blaydon rewarded their hordes of cricket fans who travelled from the north east to Lord's for the finals of the National Indoor Championships at Lords with a resounding victory over Kent side Broadstairs to take the 2007 title at their first attempt.
Four teams converged on the indoor school at Lord’s for the finals having progressed through their respective county competitions, a play-off round and their Regional Finals.
Blaydon and Sarisbury Athletic from Hampshire were both making their debuts at the National Finals while Broadstairs and Leicestershire side Lutterworth were making a welcome return.
Each team brought an enthusiastic contingent of supporters to cheer them on with Sarisbury’s fans travelling by coach in the morning and Blaydon’s party of 33 arriving by train the day before. Both groups showed their support with some noisy appreciation in the form of lively chants and generous applause.
The first semi-final between Blaydon and Lutterworth saw Blaydon put their opponents, who were finalists in 1998, into bat after winning the toss. In the second over, Sanjay Pabari went for an ambitious drive off Gale’s bowling but lofted the ball too high into the roof netting and was caught smartly by Drake.
Blaydon’s bowlers kept things tight and their fielders backed them up with some sharp work in the outfield to restrict scoring opportunities and after eight overs, Lutterworth had mustered just 50 for four.
Some sensible running by Karl Smith (38 not out) and Darren Cadar (17) then accelerated the run rate by almost double as Lutterworth closed on 96 for five, reflecting some consistently accurate spells from Blaydon’s hard working bowlers who gave away just wides in all.
Lutterworth struggled to defend this small total as Paul Underwood and Mark Drake built a solid base for Blaydon’s reply though Underwood was forced to retire when he had reached 25. There followed a flurry of three quick wickets for ten runs which reduced Blaydon to 74 for three but Mark Drake and Gary Stewart remained calm and steered Blaydon to victory off the final ball.
In direct contrast to Blaydon, the Lutterworth bowlers struggled to maintain their line and their profligacy gifted their opponents 18 valuable runs.
By the time Sarisbury came to play Broadstairs, the supporters were on a roll, creating an atmosphere that was worthy of the occasion. Sarisbury batted first but lost two wickets in the space of four balls and after three overs were 20 for two.
Michael Bond (22) and Dom Ducellier (19) steadied the ship taking the score to 64 before Bond was run out. Some frantic work in the last over added 16 as Keith Hammond scored a valuable unbeaten 20 and the Sarisbury innings closed on 100 for five. The Broadstairs reply started at a fierce pace with Neil Brennan (36 not out) and Andy Marshall (26 not out) blazing away from the start.
Once they retired, there was a distinct wobble as four quick wickets fell, three of them to some ill-judged running between the wickets. But once Brennan and Marshall returned, normal service was resumed and Broadstairs won by two wickets with 3.2 overs to spare.
In the final, Blaydon once more won the toss and invited their opponents to have first knock. This time, Neil Brennan was trapped lbw in the third over with the score on 22 and Scott Narraway was run out without any addition to the score. Andy Marshall continued to 26 when he had to retire. He returned to add some much needed impetus towards the end of the Broadstairs innings but their cause was not helped by some ambitious running by the batsmen, five of whom were run out by some outstanding fielding from Blaydon.
Two run outs at the start of the last over meant that Broadstairs were all out for 97, which was a below par score for the venue.
Blaydon started off in pursuit at a fast pace once again. Paul Underwood (25*) and Mark Drake (25*) made victory inevitable with a formidable opening stand and the only hiccup was when Peter Howells was dismissed for a duck with the score on 52.
His wicket proved to be the solitary success for Broadstairs as Geoff Stewart (19*) and Stephen Gale (17*) led their team home passing the target required off the last ball of the ninth over.
Blaydon won their title in style with a five wicket winning margin and three overs to spare leaving their supporters in a frenzy of celebration.
Three individual awards were made during the Presentation Ceremony and these were:-
Man of the Day: Paul Underwood (Blaydon) Won a Phoenix 5 star bat donated by Gray-Nicolls
Fielding Prize: Neil Brennan (Broadstairs) Won a prize kindly donated by Cockspur Rum
Bowling Award: Stephen Gale Won a Hawkeye session donated by MCC