Mildenhall win last-ball thriller to book finals spot

Ecb U15 National Club Championship

Mildenhall U15 Portman 2006

Bournemouth-bound: Mildenhall celebrate their win at Horsham

Suffolk side Mildenhall booked their place at the finals of the Portman Building Society U15 National Club Championship 2006 with a last-ball victory over Harrow St Mary’s in the first regional final at Horsham.

Having seen off the challenge of Leatherhead & Cobham (Surrey) and Gore Court (Kent) respectively in the morning semi-finals, Mildenhall and Harrow St Mary’s put on a fitting climax to the July 31 competition.

Mildenhall won the toss and decided against the trend of the day to field, with Harrow St Mary’s setting off at a tremendous pace with an opening partnership of 100 between Tom Pettet and R Patel in 13 overs. A big score looked to be in the offing but once Pettet retired at 50 the scoring rate slowed dramatically.

In the end Harrow St Mary’s finished on 125 for eight from their 20 overs, Luke Turner (4-10) being highly instrumental in restricting Harrow to a similar target to the one they had defended against Gore Court in the semi.

In reply Mildenhall were 58 for six after 14 overs with Patel having taken 3-14. Then Luke Turner took charge and with support from his partners scored 50 – meaning he had to retire with 11 runs still required from just under two overs.

Some fast running between the wickets put pressure on the Harrow fielders and a couple of run out chances were missed. Everything rested on the final over with seven runs needed to win; and three singles off the first five balls left four needed off the last ball.

The final delivery from Khan saw Thurston edge the ball past the wicket-keeper and as the ball sped to the boundary beating the despairing chase of third man the large group of Mildenhall supporters exploded with sheer delight.

Mildenhall became the first of four teams to qualify for the National Finals to be held at Bournemouth Sports Club on Wednesday August 23 starting at 10:30am. But all the teams on the day must be congratulated for reaching the last 16 (out of 1,659) in the country in this prestigious competition.

The morning’s semis also saw some excellent cricket played. Leatherhead & Cobham won the toss and batted against Mildenhall and found the tight bowling and enthusiastic fielding of the Suffolk side a lot to cope with. No less than four batsmen were run out and Leatherhead were all out for 112.

In reply, Ford and Lee put on 103 for Mildenhall’s first wicket, helped in no small part by a large number of extras (31); Mildenhall running out winners by nine wickets.

The other semi-final was a much closer affair. Harrow St Mary’s won the toss and also elected to bat first. Pettet batted superbly and scored an accomplished 50 – once he retired, however, the impetus of the innings was lost and with Ben Price claiming 4-15 the Middlesex side finished on 127 for eight.

Gore Court started well and at 66 for two in the 12th over looked to be well in contention but the sharp fielding of Harrow St Mary’s and a flurry of wickets reduced the score to 93 for six.

Gore Court’s chances were seriously handicapped when Chris Piesley was out for an accomplished 39, and they finished on 117 for eight in an enthralling contest that was alive until the last over.

In the third place play-off Leatherhead won the toss and decided to bat first again. Gore Court bowled tightly and fielded well to restrict them to 110 for seven on a pitch with a fast outfield and a short boundary at one end.

Gore Court made a disastrous start to their reply and after two overs were six for three wickets. Some determined batting then took the score to 70 for six after 12 overs at which staged Palmer was dismissed for 33 and Leatherhead & Cobham then turned the screw dismissing Gore Court finally for 103 with eight balls left to win by seven runs.

Horsham regional final results:

Winners: Mildenhall
Runners up: Harrow St Mary’s
Third: Leatherhead & Cobham
Fourth: Gore Court