Blaydon race through again

Ecb Indoor

Champions in 2007, Blaydon will be back at Lord's this month in the National Finals of the ECB Indoor Six-a-side Championship.

February 28 saw a very extensive programme of matches at Derby as two County play-off matches preceded the Regional Finals. There was an extremely strong field present on the day with the 2009 runners-up from Sheffield Hallam University hoping to go one better this year and lift the trophy at Lord’s.

Blaydon, also runners-up in 2008, were harbouring similar thoughts of a return to Lord’s and the line-up included a third club, Sandyford, who were at Lord’s for the 2008 Finals; on that occasion they had won through from the Regional Final held at Edgbaston. It was clear that there would be a high standard of competitive cricket on display throughout the day.

The first match was the County play-off between Sheffield Hallam University, as Yorkshire champions, and their opposite number Skegness from Lincolnshire. Skegness batted first and found the students’ attack to be too strong for their batsmen as they were shot out for 71. The university side then cruised to victory without losing a wicket.

Next up was the match between the Lancashire representatives from Kearsley, regulars at the Regional Final stage, and Aston on Trent from Derbyshire. With the latter posting a challenging 140 the pressure was on Kearsley who, in trying to keep up with the asking rate, lost wickets too frequently and were bowled out for 109 thus losing by 31 runs.

The first semi-final was the next match with Sheffield Hallam University, after a rest, taking on Sandyford from Staffordshire. Once again the students’ bowling attack ran through the opposition dismissing them for 95 despite the tremendous performance from J Barnett, who reached 50 after returning at the fall of the fifth wicket.

C Allcoat was the most successful of the university bowlers as he returned figures of 3-30. Once again the university side cruised to victory without losing a wicket!

The second semi saw Aston on Trent bat first against Blaydon. With M Pollard taking 3-19 Aston were soon in trouble. Their main resistance came from F Khan, who easily top scored with 41. M Drake and G Bridge were the main scorers as Blaydon cruised to a four-wicket win.

That set up a repeat of the Regional Final from 2009; on that day the venue was Headingley and Blaydon had scored 107 for three and the students had prevailed in a tight match, winning by two wickets – would it be as close this time around?

This time Blaydon had a better start but after retirements on reaching 25 by Allan Worthy and M Drake the other batsmen struggled. The key to the match proved to be the return of these two batsmen once the third and fourth wickets had fallen as they scored 47 not out and 49 not out respectively.

Blaydon’s innings closed on a challenging 141 for four. Sheffield Hallam University found the Blaydon bowling attack a different proposition. J Tolley was the only batsman to get on top of the bowlers, and he also returned after retiring, and was eventually out for a superb 69 as his side lost by nine runs.

Blaydon therefore return to Lord’s for their third visit in four years. Rumours abound that staff at the Indoor School are to be issued with ear defenders in case there proves to be another raucous rendition of ‘The Blaydon Races’ as has been the case on both of their previous visits

They join Betteshanger (Kent), Poole Town (Dorset) and Godmanchester Town (Huntingdonshire) at Lord’s on Sunday March 14.

County Play-offs

Skegness 71 all out; Sheffield HU 73 for 0 wkt. Sheffield HU won by 6 wkts.
 
Aston 140 all out; Kearsley 109 all out. Aston on Trent won by 31 runs.

Semi-Finals

Sandyford 95 all out. (J. Barnett 50, C.Allcoat 3 for 30); Sheffield HU 97 for 0wkts, ( S Allcoat 26 n.o, J Tolley 25n.o.). Sheffield HU won by 6 wkts.

Aston 86 all out (F Khan 41, M Pollard 3 for 19); Blaydon 87 for 2 (M Drake 26 n.o.,  G Bridge 26 n.o.). Blaydon won by 4 wkts.

Final

Blaydon 141 for 4 (A Worthy 47 n.o. M Drake 49 n.o.); Shefield Hallam Uni 132 all out (J Tolley 69.). Blaydon won by 9 runs.