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The OCCC won our second Cricketer Cup title, beating Old Malvernians by 52 runs – in so doing avenging two previous final defeats – on a drizzly and overcast day at Arundel. For a long time it seemed the match would be cancelled as light but persistent drizzle fell and the many checks of a variety of forecasts all showed the rain was not likely to stop long enough for a game. A midday attempt to toss was curtailed by a squall, then an early lunch was taken, and spectators started to drift home. An announcement of an inspection at 2pm seemed little more than going through the motions, but to their credit the umpires and organisers wanted to play and a lull in the rain allowed for a toss and a 2.40pm start. The consensus was that a full game was unlikely to it was decided to play a T20 match. Despite the rain the outfield was damp rather than wet and the wicket itself good.
We lost the toss and were stuck in and got off to a flier with Seren Waters (29 off 15) and Michael Burgess (56 off 31) attacking from the start. Forty came off the first three overs, and when the rain returned we had raced to 64 for 1 off 5.3 overs. After a 20 minute delay Burgess resumed with a towering six. Jack Scriven made 18 off nine balls before falling to an uncharacteristic reverse sweep, but Alan Cope kept the scoreboard moving with well-taken singles punctuated with some rasping drives. Burgess’ onslaught ended with a good catch at long-on – Malvern had just moved their best fielder there – and thereafter the impressive spinners, just as they had done in the 2016 final, slowly stifled the innings.
Brad Scriven (4) and Stuart Meaker (7) came and went, Lewis Bedford (13 off nine) perked things up but the last eight overs yielded only 55 runs while the first eight had produced 84. Cope’s valuable innings of 31 from 29 ended in a run-out before Angus Dahl smacked a six and four in the final over. The final total of 175 for 8 looked to be over par even if it was slightly less than had seemed likely in the early barrage.
Malvern’s start was good but, crucially, they lost early wickets and with it momentum. Meaker took the first, Haynes tamely chipping to Waters at mid-on, and then Will Rollings, fired up after being stopped in his run, completely beat Hardinges (22) for pace, sending his off stump cartwheeling. Soon after Dahl produced a snorting leg-break to bowl a bemused Malik for 7 and Malvern were wobbling at 54 for 3 after eight overs. Milton (38) and Twing (17) gave them hope, the latter smacking Scriven for a huge six over long-on, but he soon after holed out to Scriven off Dahl. Two overs later the same pair combined to take the crucial wicket of Milton and the sense was that Malvern, by then needing over ten an over, were out of it. Bruno Broughton, an ever-present who has not bowled much in this year’s competition, then came on and took three wickets in two overs, two caught behind by the reliable Bedford and a quite superb low return catch off a hard-hit drive.
Meaker returned to trouble the lower order, picking up a second wicket, and Rollings polished the innings off with two balls remaining, less than a minute after Ollie Pope (who had chosen to make his Test debut at Lord’s instead of playing at Arundel!) had taken the catch to win the Test against India. It was, on the day, no less than we deserved and shortly after Waters lifted the trophy the rain returned, heavier than ever.
The win capped a memorable week for Cranleigh cricket. It is worth remembering that we only were admitted to the Cricketer Cup 11 years ago and in that time we have reached five finals. Only four of the 2008 side played at Arundel – Waters, Cope, Meaker and Crump – and the youth of the current team, allied to the talent coming from the School, gives us real optimism for the future. Mention should also be made of our fielding which was consistently outstanding throughout the competition. Our two county pros were, unsurprisingly, excellent, but on the day Dahl and the veteran Cope shone.
All of this young squad (only the old lag Matt Crump is over 30) were coached at Cranleigh by Stuart Welch and his involvement in the competition has been welcome and very important. The three players who have been a key part of the success but missed out on the final – Callum Kent, Sam Dickson and Ed Tristem – were all present and will all certainly have their chance in the years to come.
A final thanks to all those who braved the elements and turned up to support (as one Malvern mother noted “you won the battle of the blazers easily”) and also to Heather Dean, our reliable and vital scorer.