MIDDLESEX WON BY THREE WICKETS
LANCASHIRE U17's - 259 for 5
MIDDLESEX U17's - 265 for 7
This weekend, the Middlesex Under 17’s squad travelled up to Leicestershire to take part in Sunday’s ECB National Final at Kibworth Cricket Club, where they took on Lancashire in what proved to be a thrilling finale to the competition.
Middlesex’s route to the final had seen them beat Essex, Kent and Surrey in the South-East group stages, before then dispatching Gloucestershire in last weekend’s semi-final at Merchant Taylors’ School.
Their opponents, Lancashire, overcame Northants last weekend to earn their place in Sunday’s final.
On a bright, sunny day in the East Midlands, Lancashire captain Rehan Udwadia won the toss and elected to bat first on what looked to be a good batting surface at Kibworth.
Seamers Ethan Bamber and Blake Cullen took the new ball for Middlesex and it didn’t take long for the latter to strike, removing opener Crawley for 9, caught by Joe Cracknell, and Lancs were 19 for 1.
Cullen struck again soon after to pick up his second wicket, getting rid of the Lancashire number three, Southworth, for 8, with Jack Davies taking the catch behind as Lancashire fell to 44 for 2.
This brought the Lancs skipper to the crease to join opener Heaton, who had started steadily, and the pair settled down to consolidate the innings. After 30 overs Middlesex had failed to get another breakthrough and the foundation had been set for the Lancashire innings, with the score on 132 for 2.
Now into the last twenty overs of their innings and with a solid platform to build on, skipper Udwadia tried to push on and accelerate, although leg spinner Luke Hollman had other ideas, as he picked up his first wicket, removing Udwadia for a fine 44, with Jack Davies taking his second catch behind the stumps to reduce Lancs to 138 for 3.
Opener Heaton, unbeaten on 55, was joined in the middle by Fielding, and the pair added a useful partnership of 58 in quick time, before the latter fell for 15, again to Hollman, who picked up his second wicket of the innings, with the score on 196 for 4.
Now deep into the last ten overs Heaton stepped on the gas, and he brought up a fine century as Lancashire chased quick runs late in their innings. When he eventually fell, stumped by Davies off Max John, he had amassed a fine 118 off 139 balls, and had hit twelve boundaries.
His knock had been the highpoint in the Lancashire innings, as they posted a total of 259 for 5 in their fifty overs. Cullen and Hollman finished with two wickets apiece and Max John with one - Cullen the pick of the bowlers, with six tidy overs going for just 19 runs.
Shukla and Perera opened for Middlesex in reply, chasing 260 for victory, although an early set-back saw Shukla dismissed for 5, caught by Crawley off the bowling of Udwadia, with score on just 10.
Jack Davies came to the crease to join Perera, and much like the Lancashire innings, an early partnership to consolidate the innings was called for. The pair duly obliged and took the score to 77 before Perera fell, for a useful 25, caught by Morley off Dove.
Rahul Wijeratne came and went quickly, caught by Wilkes off Morley for 2, and the Middlesex reply was stuttering on 84 for 3 as Charlie Scott joined Davies at the crease.
Davies brought up a well-earned half century at the halfway stage of the reply, and he and Scott continued to build a partnership that kept Middlesex well in the hunt, although with the required run rate steadily climbing, some heroics would be needed in the latter stages.
The 95 run partnership was broken in the 42nd over, as Scott went to Udwadia for 44, with Morley taking the catch, and Middlesex were 179 for 4. Cracknell came to the crease with Middlesex needing 81 runs off the last eight overs.
Next to fall was Davies, agonisingly just four short of what would have been a brilliant hundred, as he was caught and bowled by Morley for 96, with the score on 188 for 5. Still needing 72, Cracknell’s new partner was Max John.
The pair put on a quick-fire 30 to keep Middlesex in the game, although having scored 15 at more than a run a ball Cracknell became Morley’s third victim, as the game swung back in Lancashire’s favour again. 218 for 6, with Middlesex needing 42 in less than four overs.
As the required run rate rose to over two runs a ball, Lancashire had edged ahead as favourites, and new man in Luke Hollman was left with little option but to stand and deliver, which he and partner John did to some effect. With 38 needed off the final three overs of the innings, the pair smashed twenty-one runs off the 48th over, to leave Middlesex needing 17 off the final two overs and they were right back in the game again.
Another twist in the tale saw Hollman then depart, with just ten balls remaining, which brought Bamber out to the middle and again the pressure mounted.
Eight runs came off the penultimate over, leaving a target of nine required off the final over of the match for Middlesex to be crowned Champions.
A two, a boundary, and a single from Bamber from the first three deliveries of the final over left Middlesex just two runs from victory and Max John on strike. A single followed to tie up the scores, and Bamber was back facing, with just a single required and two balls to get it.
If you’re going to win it, then win it in style they say! Two balls of the match remaining, one required, Ethan Bamber smashes the Lancashire Captain Udwadia for a maximum to win the Championship for Middlesex!
A thrilling end to a brilliant game.
Congratulations to Middlesex’s Under 17’s – 2017 ECB National Champions!