On Tuesday afternoon Cranleigh’s Under 15 cricketers secured a convincing win against Dr Challoner’s Grammar School – and, by so doing, won the South East region of the National Under 15 Cricket Cup. This is the first time a side from Cranleigh has ever achieved this; indeed no Cranleigh team has ever approached this stage of this national competition.

The game was won by the very convincing margin of 9 wickets. The opposition’s total of 118 was U15 Cricket Cupcomfortably overtaken, with Lewis Bedford once again excelling with 64 not out, accompanied in an unbroken partnership of 104, by Freddie Austin, who was 38 not out when the victory was secured in the 22nd over of a 40 over innings.

In fact, having won the toss, Dr Challoner’s innings lasted until the 40th over, with Cranleigh bowling and fielding with economy and control, especially as the opposition scored 42 off the first 12 overs of their innings before the first wicket fell (the only real blemish in Cranleigh’s performance is that too many extras were conceded in wides). Some excellent catches were taken and, in a varied attack, Josh Turner, Jamie Bloomfield and Freddie Austin all bowled well.  Captain Angus Dahl bowled his leg-spin with accuracy to control the game, conceding only a miserly 13 runs from his 8 overs. Sam Dickson claimed 2 wickets for 25 in a typically crafted 8 over spell; and Nat Lubbock secured the best figures with 4 wickets for 21 in 5 impressive overs of seam bowling.

There are four regions within this national competition and the South East is certainly a strong one, featuring the winners of Under 14 county competitions from London, Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Berkshire, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Sussex and Kent. This year Cranleigh – the Under 14 champions of Surrey last summer – have surpassed them all. There is however a belief in the side that they have not yet played as well as they can this season: and there are still issues to work on, as they would themselves admit.

Knock-out competitions are never easy because one bad performance can put any team out. After a shaky victory last week in the regional semi-final, Tuesday’s win marked a return to more convincing form from this mature and good-humoured group of cricketers. This team has now won 9 knock-out matches, this summer and last: in order that  includes victories over KCS Wimbledon (by 38 runs), Whitgift (by 65 runs), Trinity Croydon (by 20 runs), Wellington College (by 7 wickets), Haberdashers’ Aske’s (by 194 runs), Hurstpierpoint (by 13 runs), and now Dr Challoner’s.

The next match will see the team play the winners of the South West region within the next two weeks. A win in that match would take this fine team to the National Final, to be played at Oakham School on Tuesday 8th July.