Saturday, 31 August 2013

Sussex win thrilling U17 T20 Title

Sussex, Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Wales were the four teams involved in the first ever national U17 T20 finals played over the last couple of days at Leamington CC.

The format involved all four teams playing each other once and the top two teams competing for the title, and the third and fourth teams playing for the runners-up slots.

The results on the first day were :-

Warwickshire 102/6 (20 overs) v Sussex 103/2 (12 overs) - Sussex won by 7 wickets
Wales 107/8 (20 overs) v Yorkshire 108/6 (?) (14.4 overs) - Yorkshire won by 4 wickets

Sussex 167/3 (20 overs) v Wales 103/9 (20 overs) - Sussex won by 64 runs
Yorkshire 113/8 (20 overs) v Warwickshire 114/8 (19.2 overs) - Warwickshire won by 2 wickets

The results on the second morning were :-

Sussex 85/10 (19.2 overs) v Yorks 86/1 (16.33 overs) - Yorkshire won by 9 wickets
Warwickshire 157/5 (20 overs) v Wales 135/7 (20 overs) - Warwickshire won by 22 runs

This meant that Sussex, Yorkshire and Warwickshire all had two wins to their credit, so it came down to the dreaded Net Run Rate calculation. To make matters worse there was no-one from the ECB at the ground to take charge. Eventually the coaches and the umpires agreed the spreadsheet calculations done by a very helpful soul (OK it was me!). The finalists were Sussex and Yorkshire. Warwickshire would take on Wales for the minor places.

In the final Yorkshire won the toss and decided to bat. Sussex, perhaps galvanized by their first defeat of the season in all formats of the game in the morning's league encounter, came out with more intensity and accuracy with the ball. They struck the important blow of removing Hollie Armitage (24) run out in the sixth over and then with Tanya Wake (3/25) claiming three quick wickets and two more run outs Yorkshire were struggling at 61/6. Katie Thompson (13) and Bea Firth (20) played good percentage cricket and put away the bad balls and took Yorkshire to 100/6 with just two overs to go, but fell trying to up the ante. Yorkshire finished on 107/8. Having bowled Sussex out for 85 in the morning's game they probably felt they had a good chance.

Sussex made a steady start in reply through Izzy Collis (6) and Paige Scholfield (18) who have dominated many opposition attacks this season. Thompson's left arm spin was outstanding as she went for just seven runs off her four overs. Both had gone by the ninth over victims of Armitage's leg-spin and Sussex were behind the pace at 34/2. By the half-way mark skipper Freya Davies (28) and keeper Abbey Freeborn (33) had moved the score onto 47/2. 61 were needed off the last ten overs. Runs were still hard to come by with Yorkshire fielding tightly. By 15 overs they had taken the score to 75/2 and Davies just seemed to have got the measure of the pitch hitting some crisp drives through and over the cover fielders, but she was then run out by another magnificent throw from the deep attempting an unnecessary second. Freeborn held firm as Sussex's middle order sacrificed themselves in search of runs. 13 were needed off the last two overs and then eight from the last, with Freeborn still there, to win.

The first ball was a wide (7 from 6); the second was hit for two by Tanya Wake, but the third bowled her; the fourth was a play and a miss (5 off 3);  the fifth produced just a single (4 off 2); Freeborn was then run out at the bowler's end attempting to run a bye to the keeper (4 off 1 to win, 3 to tie). The final ball was well struck by young Anna Harris towards the extra cover boundary, but Yorkshire had cover there. As the ball was gathered in Sussex were just turning for the second. Unfortunately the keeper could not gather the incoming throw without disturbing the stumps so could not effect the run out. A stump was then removed, but too late. Sussex had two runs and the batsmen were encouraged to continue running. They had nothing to lose. The keeper threw the ball to the bowler's end, where it could not be gathered and Sussex scampered through for the run that would tie the game, which meant Sussex would win by dint of having lost one less wicket (there being no provision in the competition rules for such an occurrence the umpires had made it clear to both sides that this would be the outcome if there was a tie).

But there were muted celebrations on the Sussex sidelines as chaos ensued in the middle amidst a mass of players, umpires, stumps and bails.

How about a game of football?
Eventually the right call was made and Sussex were given the three runs scored and declared winners. Full credit must go to the Yorkshire girls who were magnificent in defeat, especially under such tense circumstances. It was a credit to the game that both sides were laughing and joking with each other in the middle as the umpires, coaches and scorers deliberated the final result. Apparently the girls were proposing to settle the game with a football match, but decided they were actually all too tired.

The overall standard of bowling and fielding in the competition had been excellent. Yorkshire's fielding in their morning game against Sussex had been outstanding, including four run outs. Batsmen were made to work really hard for their runs and the girls will have learned a lot about the mental side of the game, which will stand them in good stead in seasons to come. This is an important competition and deserves greater ECB resources in season's to come.


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