Sandyford head to Lord's for indoor finals
A close contest in the Midlands regional finals at Edgbaston left Stoke on Trent side Sandyford heading to Lord's for the finals of the ECB National Indoor Championships 2008.
Requiring 17 runs to win off the last over with one wicket in tact, Warwickshire side Walmley fell 13 runs short when their last wicket fell with three balls to spare after some outstanding work from the Sandyford fielders whose six run outs in two matches set them apart from the other contenders.
Four sides from the Midlands - Biggleswade (Beds), Alberbury (Shropshire), Sandyford (Staffordshire) and Walmley (Warks) - competed for a place in the finals, which will be held at MCC's Indoor School at Lord's on Saturday March 16.
In the first semi-final, Walmley who had beaten Lutterworth in the play off earlier in the day inflicted a three wicket defeat over Bedfordshire side Biggleswade who made 142 for 3 from their 12 overs with Phil Gurney making 30 before he was stumped and Wright unbeaten on 25.
In reply, Greg Ricketts made 25 before retiring leaving the way open for Paul Griffiths (22 not out), Nathan Hill (17) and Bhabik Patel (16 not out) to edge towards the target which was achieved with two overs to spare and three wickets in tact.
Sandyford, where Northamptonshire off spinner Jason Brown began his career, cruised through to the finals with an easy win over Alberbury in the second semi-final. The Shropshire side struggled in the face of some razor sharp throwing to post a disappointing 108 for 5 from 12 overs, three of the wickets falling to run outs from direct hits.
The match was wrapped up in less than nine overs when Sandyford reached their target without losing a wicket, the opening partnership of Jonathan Barnett and Stephan Shemilt contributing 25 each before retiring and the Alberbury bowlers conceding 21 in the winning 110-0 total.
Barnett (38) and Shemilt (34 not out) returned to wreak more havoc in the final as Sandyford posted a competitive total of 137 for 5 with Craig Leese chipping in with a useful 19.
James Cannon (24) and Paul Griffiths (20) gave Walmley a fighting chance in reply before becoming victims of Sandyford's destructive work in the field and although Ricketts (18) and Hill (18) gave them a glimpse of victory, it was the Staffordshire side, finallists in 2004, who won the Midlands title and earned their place in the finals alongside Surrey team Worcester Park.
The regional finals to decide the last two places for the ECB National Indoor 6 a side finals on March 16 will be played on Sunday March 2 as follows.
In Group 1 at the Indoor School, Durham CCC, Riverside County Ground, Chester-le-Street at noon: Spondon (Derbyshire), Blaydon (Durham), Walkden (Lancs) and Gomersal (Yorks).Durham Programme (45 KB)
In Group 3 at the Centre of Excellence, Somerset CCC, Taunton on Sunday 2nd March from 3pm: Peppard (Berkshire), Sidmouth (Devon), Poole Town (Dorset) and Havant (Hampshire) Taunton Programme (45 KB)