Kibworth banish demons
Kibworth laid to rest the ghost of last year after beating Malden Wanderers in a thrilling rescheduled Cockspur Cup final which went down to the last over.
The Leicestershire side lost the 2007 final off the last ball but this time ensured there were cheers rather than tears as they lifted the cup for the second time in five years.
For Malden Wanderers the disappointment was etched on the disconsolate players’ faces as they queued up for their runners-up medals.
There is a fine line between success and failure – had one of a number of mistimed shots from Kibworth’s batsmen found fielders rather than the dry outfield at Southgate then there might have been a new name on the trophy.
After finishing runners-up in the Surrey Championship this season, Malden Wanderers have now twice been bridesmaid although they must have felt it would be their big day after an excellent opening stand after being asked to bat first.
Jonathan Hess and Daniel Euston put on 64 for the first wicket, comfortably dealing with the dangerous Aamir Mahmood who claimed five victims when the two teams met at Lord’s earlier in month.
Hess in particular looked in fine form, using his feet against Daniel Broughton to twice hit the left-armer back over his head for boundaries on the way to 37.
Broughton would get his revenge, dismissing both batsmen, but Malden refused to panic and in Laurie Evans had a batsman capable of setting up a winning total.
However, unlike the initial final, where seam bowling proved lethal before the rain came, the rematch would see the turn of the spinners. Kibworth captain Andy Smith used experienced spin pair of Tim Mason and Russell Spiers who put the brakes on the Malden Wanderers innings.
The pressure built which resulted in Evans running out David Gorrod. From 111 for two, Malden Wanderers lost their next five wickets for just 51 runs as Kibworth turned the screw.
Much depended on Evans, who was guilty of running out Alan Cope, but, having made 48, he lost his head in the search for late runs and was bowled by Richard Jackson attempting a horrible swipe.
Malden Wanderers captain Giles Puckle and Jonathan Albert summoned up a counterattack with the skipper launching ex-Hampshire seamer Simon Renshaw for a huge six towards the tennis courts opposite the pavilion.
Puckle clipped a four off the same bowler as he made 21 off just 14 balls while Albert contributed a gutsy 19 to see his side to 210 for nine.
Kibworth sent out two big guns to begin the reply – Greg Smith, with five matches under his belt for Leicestershire this season, and Sunny Patel who has played for England under-19s.
But it was Malden Wanderers who dominated the early exchanges with Michael Cottrell maintaining an excellent line and length.
But it was Neil Mander, bowling up the hill, who made the breakthrough when he breached Patel’s loose defence.
Smith was the next to go, somewhat disappointingly, as he had just stroked two sublime drives off Mander before attempting a wild swish across the line against Cottrell which resulted in his stumps being left in disarray.
Kibworth were soon 77 for three when Kibworth’s other Smith, captain Andy, was adjudged leg before off Puckle.
With the game in the balance, Nick Ferraby and Charlie Morgan joined forces to swing the match towards Kibworth.
Ferraby, the class act on display, swept Puckle for six early in his innings but settled for steady accumulation against the spinners. Morgan followed suit, mixing singles with chipped drives over the infield as the pair’s safety-first approach paid off handsomely.
After putting on 84, Morgan departed to a fine catch by the diving Simon Crampton at point leaving Kibworth needing 50 from seven overs.
New batsman Mason read the situation perfectly, batting around Ferraby to give the innings a much needed push.
While Ferraby launched Puckle for another six to relieve some pressure, it was former Leicestershire and Essex man Mason who dragged Kibworth within touch of victory.
Hitting three fours in a rapid 24, Mason ensured his side were home and hosed by the time Ferraby clipped the excellent Cottrell in the penultimate over straight to Hess on the midwicket boundary for a match-winning 75.
It was left to Renshaw to complete the formalities in the final over, crunching Mander’s second delivery for four through the covers before he and Mason scurried through for the winning run next ball.