Indoor championship finals loom
The ECB Men's Indoor National Club Championship competition reaches its climax on Sunday as the four remaining teams head to Lord's MCC Cricket Academy for the national finals. Three of the four teams have reached this stage of the competition before but only one has gone on to take the title.
That club is Blaydon, who will find themselves in familiar surroundings as this is their fourth consecutive appearance and sixth in seven years at the national finals. Having been beaten in the final in both 2011 and 2012, on both occasions to Kent opposition, they are hoping to go one better in 2013 as they attempt to win back the trophy they won in 2007. Blaydon came through a tough regional finals at Derby, first comfortably disposing of the students from Sheffield University in the semi-final before coming through a much closer match against Derbyshire county winners Spondon by just six runs.
Blaydon may find themselves facing Kent opposition for a third year after Betteshanger Colliery Welfare won the London and East regional final in dramatic fashion. Betteshanger, who made it to the national finals in 2010, had an easy semi-final win at Canterbury, beating Surrey champions Worcester Park by six wickets before coming up against the Essex county winners Fives & Heronians in the regional final. Needing 15 to win off the final over and still 12 with three balls remaining, Betteshanger hit three, then a six before scrambling two off the final ball to leave the scores tied. They ultimately progressed by virtue of losing one less wicket than their Essex opponents.
There was no such drama at Edgbaston as Margam, from the South Wales League and based near Port Talbot, overcame Premier League opposition in the form of Warwickshire county champions Moseley by five wickets before beating MK Sahara from Buckinghamshire by six wickets to comfortably book their place at the national finals for the first time. They will no doubt ensure that Blaydon do not have an easy passage to the final in 2013.
The final team to qualify is Sarisbury Athletic from Hampshire who return to Lord's for the first time since 2007 after coming through a strong regional final at Somerset’s Taunton home. Sarisbury enjoyed an easy win against South Wilts by five wickets before facing Somerset county winners Bridgwater in the regional final. Despite being all out for just 74, Sarisbury showed their bowling pedigree by dismissing Bridgwater for 58 for a 16-run victory to book their place at the national finals.
Access to the MCC Cricket Academy at Lord's for the national finals is free and all spectators are welcome.
National finals schedule
11:30: Semi-final one - Sarisbury Athletic v Betteshanger Colliery Welfare
13:15: Semi-final two - Margam v Blaydon
15:15: National final