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Massive congratulations to Rowledge CC U13s for winning the North Hampshire cup final. Really tense and excellent game against a very good Farnham side at their Castle ground. Went to the wire and needed some very steady nerves from the boys and of course the parents and supporters.

Match report from Benj Chilcott:

What a setting for a final. In the glorious sunshine, on a deck harder and flatter than any we’ve seen all season, this final proved to be a belter. More twists and turns than a rattle snake with a hernia. Tales of redemption, bravery, unsung heros, some minor controversy and tension… loads of tension.

The manager kept faith with the same team that started the original rained off final, in the dim and distant past… We were up against Farnham CC – a team we’d been easily beaten by twice so far this season. For us to get anything from this game every player needed to chip in… nobody seemed to give us much hope. The bookies stopped taking bets.

The toss went against us and Farnham elected to bat first. Their opening pair strode to the wicket looking like they meant business. Ethan opened the bowling from the Park End. Sun streaming over his left shoulder as he ran in. First ball a snorter just short of a length and Sam Ruffell attempted to pull, only to sky a top edge to our skipper Ferdy. Safe as houses…. One ball one wicket. Maybe just maybe.

Alistair bowled up the hill into the wind for our second over. He looked a little rusty for the first over, one good, one not so good, a couple going past the bat, a couple going to the square leg boundary. He never dropped his head and kept going with a tidy second over. Both overs from Ethan were on the money, hard to put away… All in all after four overs from Ethan and Ali we were starting to believe, Farnham’s net score below 20…

There next pair came out and Ferdy changed the bowling to bring Hayden in early. Its fair to say Hayden has probably never bowled a better over, indeed a better spell (and he did take a hattrick earlier in the season) than this. With his second delivery he cleaned bowled Tom Wheeler, one of the many Surrey players in their squad. The next two or three had their left hander playing and missing and then edging one for a single. This brought Tom back for the final delivery. This was a peach, where for the first wicket Tom had attempted to slog a straight one and his head lifted, this time he tried to play a defensive shot, Haydens natural angle took the ball into the batsmen, but somehow, even against the slope it held up and clipped the top of off stump. The end of the fifth over and they were three wickets down already.

From the up hill, into the wind end Henry Hinchcliffe bowled a couple of nice tidy offers of medium pace to back up Hayden’s excellent spell. Suddenly 8 overs gone and they were barely moving at 4 an over.

Surely they would counter attack soon. Next batsmen in, Jake Harris and Harry Morrogh, another county player. Ferdy cleverly kept Hayden in the attack and bowled through his spell. He finished with 3 overs 2 wickets for 14 runs. A net run rate of 1.33 per over… that’ll do.

To take over from Henry H, Ferdy threw the ball to Ryan. Take the pace off the ball, make them go for attack, nice thinking. First over they scored a few runs, working the ball nicely into the gaps and running hard. Ferdy then brought himself on, spin attack from both ends, one off, one mostly leg spin. First ball from Ferdy being his googly, looked like it was going wide and then spun sharply back like an off break, batsman not happy. At this point Harry started to score well for Farnham and the momentum felt like it might be changing, a couple of nice cover drives for four and scoreboard was moving again.

Ryan’s second over really ripped the heart out of them though. First delivery Ryan got an LBW decision for one that turned just enough and hit the back leg in front of middle. Swap ends Harry to face, quick two off the second ball, third ball Ryan gives it a bit of flight and Harry goes for a big hit, Ethan casual as you like jogs round, gets under it and holds a pretty tough chance, not exactly in the sun, but not exactly out of it either. Next ball slightly quicker flatter delivery and Jake misses it and the lovely sound of leather on timber. Three wickets in the over.

12 overs gone, 50ish on the board (the scoring system is more precise than this, don’t be alarmed) – the last pair had scored over thirty runs off the bat… but we’d dragged it back with Ryans three wickets.

The next four overs were the most productive for Farnham, nothing too showy, score board ticking a couple of fours – but still Rowledge looked to be in control.

The last pair came to the crease. Ferdy held Ethan back to bowl overs 18 and 20… “Who’s bowling now ?”said Henry Hinchliffe – “you”, said Ferdy – clearly feeling too much time to think about it being a bad thing. Henry bowled a tidy over, getting one caught behind by Berts, from a neat outside edge. Two deliveries later nearly getting a second from an inside edge that flew down towards the boundary – excellently fielded by Alistair, running round from third man.

Though Ethan didn’t take any more wickets, his economy was excellent – their umpire said he was sticking it in more or less the same spot each time, proper bowling. 4 overs, 1 wicket for 15 runs.

Before Ethan bowled his final over, Ferdy realised he needed to eek out an over from elsewhere – he turned to Henry Avery. It can’t be easy bowling your first over of the match in the 19th over. But with his first delivery he took a wicket. Pitched on middle and went with the hill to hit leg stump, with his fifth he nearly had a caught and bowled… It was a really good over from Henry and just shows how much talent we have at our disposal.

They scored a net total of 94 – which I’d guess is one of their lowest. Before we took the field Jim had said – fielding wins matches, back up, chase hard, stop every run you can. The boys lived this. Special mention for Luke who was really good in the field. Backed up every time a few great diving stops, Alistair excellent patrolling on the boundary, early on he sprinted from fine leg to wide third man (mostly up the slope) and cut off a four to save two runs. Arthur did a great diving stop at gully to stop a certain four… In a low scoring match like this each run counts… as we’ll see.

Rowledge’s turn to bat. Ferdy and Ryan worked out the batting order. Basic plan, get our best batsmen Ethan in first to get us off to a flyer and see if we could nurdle it from there…. Ethan and Henry Hinchliffe marched out to face the music.

They opened up with a spinner from one end and a properly top quality fast bowler from the other… first over we got a single. Second over a single and a wicket. At one point we were in the minuses… this wasn’t the script we’d hoped for. In the fourth over Ethan was hit by a snorter that took off from nowhere but he came alive and hit a couple of beautiful cover drives for four. Net score of 15 from the first four. As the oppo were quick to point out this was behind the run rate required.

Next pair in were Arthur and Berty. Arthur may not thank me for mentioning this hasn’t been his best season with the bat, but I think it is fair to say he played the defining innings of the day. If Arthur and Berty had lost a couple of wickets, or not really scored the dream would have been over, but they played well, Arthur equal top scored with 15 off ten balls, including a couple of lovely fours. Neither looked in any danger of getting out. Berty pulled one behind square for four and clipped another off his legs to score 11. If I have any complaint of this pair it was their calling being no existent (as a team they aren’t the noisiest full stop), they ran a couple of singles and an excellent two without apparently speaking to each other at all…

Luke and Henry Avery were our next pair. We had a platform of 45 off 8 overs. Nicely poised. There was lots of pressure on these lads. First up and Luke got a ripper from the Leggie Harry that bounced and turned and clipped top of middle. Not much you can do about that. But from there on they were excellent, running singles, nudging and nurdling. They came away with a net positive score in double figures, edging us closer to the target – in these games its vital that every pair comes back with a positive contribution, so no one pair is pressurised to score too many. 55 off 12… on it.

Ryan and Alistair came out as our fourth pair. This must be the third time they’ve batted together… bearing in mind the first time they did Alistair was run out, off the first ball without facing… The stress was starting to mount on Farnham and Ryan would be the last person they would have wanted to see. He could take a quick single if the ball went to the keeper, standing up… Alistair was originally chosen as his partner because of his speed – neither of them disappointed. That first over Ryan played a sweet cut for four through third man, then a little clip off his legs through fine leg for four. Thereafter the pair of them ran Farnham ragged. The cry of “you are either in saving one or on the boundary saving four” was shouted more than once in the field, as either Alistair or Ryan pushed the ball in the gap or even on a couple of occasions just short of the deep gully and took a single. Often in pairs cricket there is a lead player, give him the strike. As it turned out with Ryan and Alistair there wasn’t exactly. Alistair took a quick single from the last ball of one over, which meant he was facing the big quicky. Cool as you like a quick single off the first ball. The rest of the over Ryan took a bit of a beating, one jagging back and hitting him in the midriff, making an unmistakable plastic sound, both umpires winced.

A really solid partnership, no risky shots, only one over the top from Alistair, delightful – Alistair scored 9 off 8 and Ryan 15 off 16 –losing no wickets and seeing off the last two overs of their best bowler.

80 runs off 16 overs. One pair to go. 24 balls. 15 needed to win.

Hayden and Ferdy our final pair.

This is it. The skipper and the most laid back player in the side. ideal casting.

In years from now people will say do you remember where you were on 2nd September 2018… you’ll know. You.were.there.

No big shots were needed… and pretty much no big shots taken. Ferdy was like a dog on the leash. First over he faced nobody in the deep and the spinner bowling at him. Vast open spaces out beyond the in field…, but he played the perfect sensible captains innings and took a couple through third man.

In the next over Hayden hit one over the infield which ran away for four – cue more arguments in the field. They were now rattled. The bowler wanted cover in the deep, the captain wasn’t saying much and a couple of the senior players were pushing for everyone round the bat to take wickets. Two overs to go, 5 needed to win.

Hayden faced Harry’s leg breaks and batted out a maiden. One over to go. 5 to win. 6 legal deliveries…

First ball was a hideous full ball speared down the leg side – wide. 3 needed. Still six balls. The next delivery Ferdy played straight. The second legal delilvery he clipped beautifully off his legs, only to see the short mid wicket pull off an excellent diving stop. Suddenly the pitch seemed crowded, as if there were no gaps.. fielders everywhere. Who was the pressure on now. Four balls left three to win. The third ball was short pitched and Ferdy flat bat slapped it for four, past a diving mid on… three deliveries to go and we were on 96… two runs ahead. As long as we didn’t lose a wicket we would win… lose a wicket and we’d likely lose.

Ferdy played the next two with the straightest bat I’ve seen (and definitely the straightest bat he’s ever seen). One to go. Hayden pretty much sits down, as if to say I’m not moving whatever happens.

The final ball was speared down the leg, clipped Ferdy’s pad and went for what would have been a leg bye. Ferdy looked up. Hayden looked away…. We WON!

Thanks as ever to super scorer and team manager Jim. Well played all today and those who had played in previous rounds. Thanks to all the family and friends who showed up to support the lads. Cheering every run towards the end. This Farnham team aren’t used to losing. But as a team we supported each other, encouraged and worked hard. We stuck to sensible game plans and ultimately we WON!

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