The history boys
A jubilant Blackheath were crowned Nationwide U15 National Club Champions for the first time in their history.
The Kent side comfortably dealt with Wolverhampton in an entertaining final to emulate the likes of Nasser Hussain, Marcus Trescothick, James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff who have also lifted the famous trophy.
The competition began with 1,750 teams and after the morning’s semi-finals – Blackheath beat Notts Unity while Wolverhampton narrowly edged past Bournemouth – it was left to the final two sides to battle it out for the grand prize.
Batting first under some threatening rain clouds at Kibworth, Blackheath clocked up 124 for eight – a total that was underpinned by Dipayan Paul’s excellent half-century.
Displaying a maturity beyond his tender years, the youngster regularly found the boundary in an innings of the highest class. He even had the temerity to employ the reverse sweep as he homed in on fifty.
He received valuable support from skipper Richard Fleming and Alex Price before Mamunur Rashid’s cameo knock at the end of the innings put Blackheath in the ascendency at the halfway stage.
Will Nield was the pick of the Wolverhampton bowling with 3-20 while Jack Biddulph also shone during his spell of 2-21. Behind the timbers Alex Grant looked a hot prospect with three smart stumpings.
Wolverhampton’s reply began in disastrous fashion as they lost three wickets with just two runs on the board.
Shojib Ali and Paul claimed a wicket each before James Carmichael instigated a stunning run out which left the Midlanders in disarray.
Baharder Sandhur, showing confidence after a match-winning knock in the semi-final, hit a fighting 21 but his dismissal – run out at the bowler’s end after Paul deflected Grant’s drive onto the stumps – effectively signalled the end.
Grant also failed to scale the heights he reached in the morning’s semi-final. Looking a cut above the rest just hours earlier, he struggled to reproduce that form when it mattered and made just seven.
Benji Pearson chipped in with 14 but Blackheath, whose out cricket was superb, consistently took wickets to leave Wolverhampton 75 for seven when the rain came.
Play eventually resumed but with thunder and lightning in the distance, the weather was as gloomy as Wolverhampton’s predicament.
James Turner added some respectability with a run-a-ball 21 and in putting on 36 with Kamran Waheed gave his side a glimmer of a miracle.
But, sparked by Adam Senn’s fine tumbling catch to dismiss Waheed, it soon became Blackheath’s day.
It was left to Ben Pearce to deliver the final blow, clean bowling Michael Inglis to signal joyous celebrations.
In the third-fourth play off, Bournemouth ended their day on a high note when they defeated Notts Unity.