On Thursday 26th June, Cranleigh Under 15 cricketers battled hard to pull off an excellent win in the semi-final of the National Lord’s Taverners’ competition. As winners of the South East division of the tournament, Cranleigh were matched against the winners of the South West division and an often tense and very competitive match against a talented Portsmouth GS side was eventually won by 93 runs. The team will now play in the final of the competition at Oakham School in Rutland on Tuesday 8th July.
Cranleigh won the toss and took first use of another excellent batting wicket on Jubilee prepared by Grounds Manager Dennis Bloomfield and his team. Initially the Cranleigh side gave the impression of playing the occasion rather than employing their skills in their usual way in what was simply another game of cricket. However, with two wickets already lost for 22 runs, captain Angus Dahl dug in with opener Lewis Bedford in a batting partnership of 61 against some tight bowling. Once Dahl’s wicket had fallen, Ed Tristem joined Bedford in what ultimately became a match-winning stand of 103 runs, with Tristem playing shots with judgement and freedom for a very well-made 51. All this time Lewis Bedford built his innings and, when he was finally dismissed in the 40th over for 115, the final total of 235 for 7 was pretty much secured. Lewis has now made 3 hundreds this season in the competition – against Haberdasher’s, Hurstpierpoint and now PGS – and his run-total stands at 488 for the season.
235 was always going to be an imposing total to chase, and the PGS innings started with an early wicket resulting from a run-out provided by an excellent piece of fielding and direct hit at the bowler’s end from Tristem. Then the cricket became attritional. Occasional lapses of line from the bowlers, and one or two slips in the field, meant that PGS remained in the hunt for a win. However, wickets fell steadily as the required run-rate mounted once the second wicket had been secured with the total on 64. That there were 5 run-outs in total in the innings showed how the Cranleigh fielding really picked up in the second half of the PGS innings. With rain threatening to condemn the game to a “no-result”, Cranleigh were forced to bustle through their overs with spinners operating; and then Dahl introduced the fast bowling of Jamie Bloomfield to finish the game off – which he duly did by knocking over the final 3 wickets in 2 overs for a final score of 142.
This means the team has now won 10 matches in this knock-out tournament over two summers (with some prestigious scalps among them, as I wrote after the previous round). This is by no small margin much further than Cranleigh has ever gone in the competition before: indeed no team from Surrey has ever taken the Taverners’ trophy as winners. The Cranleigh side hope to put that omission right on 8th July – by remembering to play the game and not the occasion.