Congratulations to Middlesex Under 17’s boys who overcame Gloucestershire at Merchant Taylors’ School yesterday to convincingly win the ECB National semi-final.
Middlesex captain Rahul Wijeratne won the toss and elected to bat under bright blue skies in Northwood.
Sahil Shukla and Savin Perera opened up for Middlesex and got the hosts off to a steady start with a 36 run opening partnership, before Shukla was caught by Senior off the bowling of Hankins for 10.
Perera was joined at the crease by Jack Davies and the pair built an impressive partnership of 97 that set a fantastic foundation for the Middlesex innings.
Having reached 40 Davies fell, trapped in front by Jupp, with Middlesex on 133 for 2.
Two quick wickets followed, as the Middlesex captain, Wijeratne, fell soon after for a three-ball duck off the bowling of Price, before Charlie Scott became Jupp’s second victim of the day, as he went for 1, caught by Brewer. The Middlesex total was on 136 for 4.
Perera was joined by Joe Cracknell in the middle, and despite being unruffled by the wickets falling around him Savin Perera had batted masterfully throughout, although when on 79 his fine innings came to end, as Price struck again to pick up his second wicket, with the hosts score was on 159 for 5. Perera’s 79 had come off 95 balls and included eight boundaries.
With the foundation set, Cracknell upped the pace and picked up where Perera left off, as he batted superbly with new partner Josh De Caires. The pair put on an important partnership of 64 in quick time, before Cracknell became Jupp’s third victim, with the score on 223 for 6, having smashed a superb 71 off just 60 balls, in an innings that included three sixes and eight fours.
De Caires was joined by Luke Hollman, and the pair continued at a pace, both finishing unbeaten on 29 and 22 respectively, as they took the hosts’ total to a respectable 265 for 6 at the end of their allotted 50 overs.
With the job half done, after an impressive batting performance, it was time to deliver with the ball, and the new ball honours were given to seamers Ethan Bamber and Blake Cullen.
Gloucestershire opener Milo Ayres set off like a runaway train, scoring at over two a ball, as he smashed a quick-fire 43 off just 19 balls, although Bamber then got the better of him, as Jack Davies took the catch behind to see off the visitors’ big hitting opener.
Bamber and Cullen then dominated with the ball, with the former picking up his second wicket, bowling Webb for 2, before Cullen claimed the wicket of Price, for 3, with Davies again snaring him behind.
With the score on 54 for 3, Gloucestershire had to consolidate, although their plans were further interrupted soon after, when with the score on 89 Middlesex struck twice to really gain the initiative.
Leg spinner Hollman struck first, trapping Drissell in front for 19, before Hugh Teesdale then delivered the second blow, bowling Brewer for 15.
With Gloucestershire in trouble on 89 for 5, Middlesex were in the box seat, although a rallying sixth wicket partnership of 64 gave the visitors some hope.
Max John put an end to that though as he gifted Davies his third catch behind, when finding the edge of Hooper’s bat, who departed for 23.
Whilst the seam quartet of Cullen, Bamber, John and Teesdale had done most of the damage, bowling with pace and control throughout the innings, it was the guile of leg spinner Hollman that hammered the final nails into the Gloucestershire coffin, as he picked up the wicket of the dangerous looking Hankin, who had hit an impressive 40, caught by Max John.
When Cracknell ran out Naish 21 with the Gloucestershire score on 188, it was over to Hollman to finish off the tail, as he first picked up the wicket of Price, caught by John for 5, before then bowling Prichard for 3 to wrap up the visitors’ innings for 200, as Middlesex ran out deserved winners by 65 runs.
Outstanding performances from the four frontline Middlesex seamers, all who picked up at least a wicket apiece, although the standout figures of the day were that of Luke Hollman, who finished with 4 for 34 from 9.4 overs.
Middlesex’s victory takes them into the ECB National Final, which will be played at Kibworth Cricket Club in Leicestershire next Sunday, 9th July, in a game which starts at 10.45am.
Middlesex’s opponents will be Lancashire Under 17’s, who beat Northants in the other National semi-final.
Thanks to all those who came to Merchant Taylors’ School on Sunday to support the lads in action. Your support was greatly appreciated.
Anyone wishing to head to Kibworth and support the boys again, will be pleased to hear that it’s free entry for all spectators at Kibworth Cricket Club, Fleckney Road, Kibworth, Beauchamp, Leicester, LE8 0HG.