Rapturous scenes of jubilation greeted the Lords outfield and Stowe Lane simultaneously as Colwall defeated Redbourne CC by 6 runs in a topsy–turvy Village Knockout final, with the result eventually favouring the Herefordshire outfit.
Captain James Wagstaff wandered out to the middle at 10:25 and as Colwall were termed as the away side, he was asked to call at the toss. With the Redbourne skipper not producing a coin at the toss, Wagstaff offered the piece of silver used in the match – deciding act against Bronwydd and luck was on his side again as he was successful in calling Heads. He chose to bat first on a resplendent – looking Lords deck, coupled with superb overhead conditions that could have been mistaken for a fine summer’s day.
Redbourne made the unusual decision to open the bowling with 2 spinners with wrist-spinner Connor Yorath opening from the Nursery End and Daniel Darvell the Pavillion End. Opener Olly Cox settled the Colwall nerves with a 4 in the first over off Yorath, pouncing on a short ball and cutting delightfully through point. It would be the only runs Cox would score as he departed to the final ball of Darvell’s first over, bowled by a full ball that drifted in sharply with Colwall on 9-1. Richard Howitt joined Ben Cooke at the crease and both played watchfully, punishing the width when offered and rotating the strike where possible.
Just as Colwall felt they had recovered from their early setback, Redborn struck another blow with Yorath hitting the top of Cooke’s off stump, removing him for 11 to leave Colwall in the precarious position of 24-2 in the 7th over. Fergus Cameron was the new batsmen in and played watchfully, carefully playing the dangerous Yorath and Darvell with no element of risk in the shots he played. At the 10 over mark, Redbourne were very much in the ascendancy with Colwall slightly toiling. The introduction of seamer Moyle to the attack provided welcome relief for CCC as Howitt tucked into the oft short – pitched length he bowled, taking him for 14 in his first over, including a delightful flat 6 over square leg into the stand.
Josh Arnold replaced Yorath and Colwall took full advantage of the wayward line bowled by the Redborne pair, scoring 68 runs between the 10thand 20th over, including three overs that went for double figures and finding themselves on 92-2 at the half way stage. In the 21stover, Fergus Cameron departed for 23 off 51 balls, miscuing a dance down the track and hitting it straight to long on. Despite not scoring at a quick rate, it should not be discounted how vital it was to not lose another wicket quickly when Cameron entered the fray and his innings solidified the Colwall innings.
Fresh from his 44 from 31 balls against Carlton Towers in the semi – final, James Abel graced the Lords turf and scored at a strike rate of 100 for the majority of his innings. He also took a liking to the bowling of Arnold and put him into the leg side boundary twice in the 24th over. Howitt continued to look comfortable at the crease and regularly manoeuvred the field around for singles and twos. Colwall had finely fought themselves back into the game and at the 25th over, were 114-3, prime to elevate the run rate. Redborn, however, had other ideas and limited Colwall to 25 runs between the 25th and 30th over. Howitt brought up his 50 during this period from 70 balls but Colwall lost Abel for 21, trying to paddle sweep the returning Darvell, looking to take advantage of an unorthodoxly placed short, fine – leg.
This brought Ben Wheeler to the crease, who started with a dot but hit a full toss to the cover boundary with the next ball. Wheeler had obviously found his straps in a hurry as in the 32nd over, he hit Roe into the top tier of the stand over deep mid – wicket. In the following over, the commanding Howitt was finally out for a superb 58 from 86 balls, bowled by the impressive Darvell with one that skidded on slightly, leaving Colwall on 152-4 in the 33rd over. Wheeler had hit Roe out of the attack but his replacement Steven Richards fared even worse, being hit for 15 from his solitary over, including a four from new batter Ben Febery. With Darvell now bowled out, Redbourne were forced to use a host of bowlers who could not survive the onslaught of Wheeler.
Wheeler played a series of powerful shots into the leg side stand and one particularly sensational shot over long off for 6. He brought up his 50 off 27 balls and finished on 72 from 33 balls, scoring 3 fours and 7 sixes in one of the most spectacular innings that many could wish to see, allowing Colwall to set 230 to win, the 7th highest run total recorded by a side in a Village Knockout Final.
The Redbourne reply could barely have got off to a better start for them with skipper Ed Hales planting Mikey Gooch (0-35) into the leg-side boundary for 6. Fellow brother Will Hales and skipper E Hales found scoring very easy in the first 6 overs and the Hertfordshire side found themselves 50-0 from the first 6 overs. Luke Dalley (2-33) replaced Gooch from the Nursery end and was unfortunate to go for 8 from his first over, an edge and a guide not finding the hands of the slip cordon.
Howitt (1-47) replaced Robertson (0-30) from the Pavillion End and just as he had in the two previous rounds, he struck in his first over, removing Will Hales for 11, caught at mid- wicket. Yorath entered the fray but struggled to put bat to ball. Fortunately for him, Hales was continuing to score at a blistering rate to take Redbourne to 77-1 off the first 10 overs. In the 11th over, Yorath skied Luke Dalley high into the Marleboyne sky ; Ben Febery turned, sprinted 30 yards and took the swirling ball, diving at full tilt to send Yorath back to the pavilion. For the next 5 overs, Colwall enjoyed the best period of their bowling reply – restricting Redbourne to 8 runs during this period.
Hales found his rhythym again in the 17th over, scoring 10 from a Dalley over and (0-27) introduced himself into the attack as a replacement. Undeterred by the short leg side boundary, Wagstaff was not frightened to toss the ball up and generated several wicket – taking chances but they were not taken. At the half way stage, Redbourne were 119/2 and looked comfortable in their chase. Ben Febery (2-40) provided the breakthrough that Colwall desperately needed in the 25th over, removing Hales, who swiped at a full ball and missed, adjudged LBW for an outstanding 119 from 83 balls.
From this point on, Redbourne found it significantly harder to score runs and having needed 70 from 84 balls, they now needed 58 from 60 balls. Mikey Gooch returned in the 29th over to replace Wagstaff and bowled an outstanding second spell down the Lords slope. The combination of Roe and Craig could barely put bat to ball and in stark contrast to his opening spell, he went for 12 runs from his final 5 overs.
Febery then took the crucial wicket of the well – set Roe in the 34th over, an outstanding sliding catch by Cameron in the deep to remove him. If Colwall thought this had swung match for them, they were mistaken as new batsmen Richards came out swinging, scoring at a run a ball until he was dismissed by the returning Dalley for 22 in the 39th to provide Colwall with a huge momentum boost going into the final over. Robertson was tasked with bowling the final over with Redbourne requiring 10 runs to win as they would have won with a tie, based on wickets lost and runs scored at the 20 over stage. Redbourne scored 3 singles and one leg bye from Robertson’s over and fell short by 5 runs, giving Colwall their first win of the National Village Knockout Trophy.
Whilst the wicket of Hales was an enormous boost to Colwall’s chances of winning, the economical bowling of Dalley and Gooch in his second spell should not be understated in helping Colwall drag the game back and eventually win it. James Wagstaff lifted the trophy in front of the Members pavilion and Colwall were crowned champions.