Down to final 10
A fantastic day's Cockspur Club Twenty20 saw the field of 25 Premier League champions reduced to 10, with more to go in the South West Final this coming Sunday.
A crowd of more than 200 enjoyed the Bank Holiday sunshine at Billericay CC, where Reigate Priory emerged as London champions.
Facing Reigate in the London & East Regional Final on Sunday September 13 will be Henley, deserved winners of the South East Area Finals after seeing off a very strong Preston Nomads team and go on to beat Vauxhall Mallards in the final over of the day.
Chester-le-Street continued their fantastic season beating Preston in the North East Area Final only a week after securing a place at the final of the ECB National Club Championship.
A big crowd attended the North West Area Finals at Oulton Park and were treated to a fantastic opening game as the hosts piled on 220 against New Brighton, including the only century of the round so far from local favourite and ex-Derbyshire man Nathan Dumelow.
Sadly the rain came half way through the decider between the hosts and Ockbrook & Borrowash, leaving Ockbrook winners by virtue of a higher net run rate.
In the Midlands, Birmingham & District League leaders Knowle & Dorridge made the most of home advantage to win through the Western Division.
They will host Cuckney of the Nottinghamshire Premier League in the Midlands Final on Sunday September 13, after they won through an exciting Eastern Division Finals at Wollaton CC.
Knowle & Dorridge qualified after they emerged with wins over Northampton Saints and Burslem. After K & D and Burslem had beaten Saints, the last game of the day was a winner takes all affair between the two other clubs. The weather was always going to favour the side batting second, and so it proved, as K & D invited Burslem to bat.
Following a rain interruption during the Burslem innings K & D were left with seven overs to reach a winning target before the cut-off time agreed by both captains and umpires.
Burslem had reached 100 for six from 17.5 overs when play was halted by steady rain. After almost an hour’s delay, their innings was completed and the side from the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Premier Cricket League had reached 117 for seven, after 20 overs.
Alex Bailey top scored with 32 and Mick Rowley weighed in with 31, while Kevin Bray with three wickets, and Will Mottram, with two, were the most effective bowlers for K & D.
Faced with a target of 41, in seven overs, to win, the BDPCL side raced home in four overs, with Attiq Chishti (18 not out) and Bray (12) leading the way.
In the first game of the day, K & D won the toss and invited Saints to bat but there was no hint of the drama to come when former Lancashire and Northamptonshire opener, Alec Swann, took 10 off the first over from Will Mottram.
Saints then slipped to 14 for four, due to an inspired spell of seam bowling by the ever-improving Ben Coley, who finished with 3-4 from his four overs. Despite 17 from skipper, Chris Park, Saints failed to recover and made 56 in 18.1 overs.
Ex-Warwickshire all-rounder Nick James snapped up 3-9 and the home side were left with a simple task to secure victory, which they, duly, achieved in the 10th over, for the loss of two wickets, with Richard Johnson (23) and Luke Parker (21 not out) relatively untroubled.
Against Burslem, Saints raced to 154 for two thanks to a century opening partnership by Zak Harvey (73 not out) and Swann (59). Burslem responded, well, reaching 117 for one, from 13 overs, before rain stopped play. After a short delay, the match resumed and Burslem reached their target for the loss of three wickets, off the first ball of the final over, Chris Roberts (61) leading the way.
The most exciting event of all must have been at Usk CC where every match was decided in the final over.
A large crowd had gathered, including Mochdre CC all the way from North Wales, from the start at Usk to see Bournemouth take on the local favourites Sully Centurions in game one. They were rewarded for their early starts as the Dorset side posted a competitive 144 for nine.
In reply, Sully Centurions kept with the rate all the way but fell just a few runs short on 138 for seven from their 20 overs.
Sully then faced Mochdre in game two where only a win would keep them in contention, with the small matter of who would become Welsh Twenty20 Champions as an added incentive.
Sully's batsmen went off at a cracking pace although their bowlers would have preferred to be bowling at a target higher than their 154 for seven. Mochdre always looked in it and although wickets fell their lower order held on to win the match and Welsh bragging rights from the final ball winning by three wickets.
So after two very tight finishes game three was the decider. The light misty drizzle which had come and gone all day became a more persistent drizzle as the teams took the field. The pink Tiflex balls came into their own as visibility, not to mention the now very damp pitch, deteriorated rapidly.
The Bournemouth batsmen still managed to post the largest total of the day so far. By reaching 173 for two their had set Mochdre a very tough challenge in the fading light. The match was evenly matched until the final over but Mochdre fell short by seven runs on 166 for five.
Bournemouth were the worthy overall winners and face the winners of the South West Area Final between Bridgwater of Somerset, North Devon and last year's national finalists St. Just of Cornwall.