On Tuesday 8th July, on Doncaster Close, Oakham School, the Cranleigh team beat Sedbergh School to become the ECB/ESCA National Under 15 Cricket Champions for 2014: or, to put it in terms that those in school cricket would understand, Cranleigh are this year’s winners of the Lord’s Taverners Trophy. They are the first team from Surrey ever to win this prestigious tournament.
Any competition which starts with over 1200 teams in it, and is played over two school cricket seasons, requires quality cricket sustained over a large number of matches (in fact 11 in all). This Cranleigh team have provided that. In an article on the website after the semi-final, I commented that perhaps we had not yet seen the best of this side: on Tuesday we certainly did when this outstanding team beat Northern and Midland Division winners Sedbergh by the huge margin of 171 runs.
Cranleigh won the toss and elected to bat on a good wicket. Partnerships are the key to establishing a good total and three partnerships of over 50 – 70 for the first wicket, 51 for the second wicket, 57 for the third wicket – saw the team towards a score of over 200. Ed Cooper opened and scored a fine attacking 39, Freddie Austin followed him at number 3 with 25, and Angus Dahl at 4 with 28. The common element within all three stands however was Lewis Bedford who scored a mature and accomplished 94, unselfishly losing his wicket only in the last over of the 40 going for a boundary for the good of the team when he could comfortably have batted himself to a three-figure score. This season in 6 successive cup games Lewis has scored 24 (against Wellington), 100 not out (against Haberdasher’s), 100 not out (against Hurstpierpoint), 65 not out (against Dr Challoner’s), 115 (against Portsmouth GS) and 94 in the final where he was awarded the Man of the Match. Out twice in 6 innings for 498 runs – his achievement is truly extraordinary.
The team eventually posted 217 for 9 wickets at the end of the 40 overs which might perhaps ultimately have been 10 runs fewer than looked likely at one stage. At the halfway point both sides felt confident but, within 6 overs, the Sedbergh total read 10 for 4, with a run-out through the excellent fielding of Ed Tristem, one wicket for the splendid swing bowling of Sam Dickson, and two wickets for Josh Turner, including a superb and crucial catch at first slip by Freddie Austin. Cranleigh’s perennial fear of the weather taking a hand to deny them loomed briefly as some dark clouds rolled towards Rutland across the Lincolnshire fens; but they dissipated, and pressure was maintained with some excellent catching and bowling (as well as with two great stumpings from Lewis Bedford, one off Nat Lubbock’s bowling). Then, as he had done in the semi-final, Jamie Bloomfield came on and simply blew away the last 4 Sedbergh’s wickets in 9 balls at the cost of 1 run. A large crowd of spectators seemed almost stunned by such a high-quality performance from the Cranleigh team, which meant that the second innings lasted less than 17 overs.
The team – of Angus Dahl, Freddie Austin, Lewis Bedford, Josh Turner, Sam Dickson, Ed Cooper, Ed Tristem, Nat Lubbock, Harry Horstead, Jamie Bloomfield, James Vickery and Will Vincent – then collected their well-deserved winners medals (and a proper mention should also go to Callum Job and Benjy Carr who made important contributions during this second year of the competition too).