Swardeston Sharks U19 T20 Champions
Swardeston Sharks U19’s have won the inaugural Natwest Blast U19 Club T20 Competition after an entertaining finals day at Manor Park which saw 4 teams go head to head to compete for the title.
An exhilarating day of T20 cricket saw the best four U19 sides across Norfolk come together for finals day at Manor Park that replicated something very similar to the National T20 Blast. With a DJ Stand, BBQ, Bar, Pink Balls, Coloured Kit, Natwest Stumps and more a great atmosphere was created for all.
The first semi-final saw Barton Spartans take on the Swardeston Sharks with an early start of 10:15. Swardeston won an important toss and elected to bowl on a bowler friendly pitch and set about their task straight away restricting runs in the powerplay. Early wickets fell and the innings never really got going as spin twins Matthew Taylor & Alfie Cooper took 5 wickets between them. A late cameo from Andy Carver & Cameron Marrable saw Barton reach 84/7 from their 20 overs
which was more than they looked like getting at one stage.
With the pitch improving and a low total to defend, early wickets were a must if this game was to have one final twist. Matthew Taylor (28) & Will Kidner (20) quashed any chance of a comeback as they scored freely at the top of innings to keep Swardeston in control. Captain Jason Reynolds finished the job with 18 not out as Swardeston cruised home with 6 overs and 8 wickets to spare. Joe Everett the pick of the bowlers with 1-19 from his 4 overs. A comfortable win for Swardeston in the end saw them qualify for the final to be played later in the day.
The second semi-final took place at 1pm between Fakenham Falcons and the Garboldisham Foxes in glorious September sunshine which remained throughout the day after the early morning clouds. Fakenham were invited to bat first and despite the early wickets of Harrison Futter & Billy Yarham after good bowling from Kieron Pask, the run rate always remained healthy as Sam Hunt (18) and Tom Hill (21) scored regular boundaries. The main stay of the innings was Nathan Thurston (50) who struck the ball cleanly with 6 fours and 2 sixes in his innings. The pick of the bowlers was Lewis Taylor who took the first 5-wicket-haul of the competition as he finished with 5-25 from 3 overs. However, this was not enough to stop Fakenham from posting a very imposing 155 All Out from their 20 overs.
In reply, Garboldisham lost the key wickets of Matt Plater, Henry Pheonix & Kieran Pask all for 2 runs within the powerplay to Fakenham’s star man with the bat Nathan Thurston who took all 3 wickets. This left Garboldisham in a very precarious position on 24/3 from the opening 6 overs and requiring almost 10 runs per over if they were to have any chance of chasing down the 156 total. Kristian Williman (34) batted patiently to hold the innings together without finding the much needed boundaries. Matt Long (16) & Lewis Taylor (11) threatened to hurt with some lusty blows but every time momentum built a key wicket was taken which meant the required run rate kept climbing. 2 Wickets each for Billy Yarham & Sam Hunt meant that Garboldisham could only finish on 115/9 to give Fakenham victory by 40 runs and reach the U19 T20 Final 2015 against the Swardeston Sharks.
So with the sun being out all afternoon, the pitch had now dried out nicely and was at its best for the final. Swardeston Sharks captain Jason Reynolds has no hesitation in bowling first as they looked to replicate their semi-final performance. Equally Harrison Futter (Fakenham Falcons Captain) was happy to bat first as he also looked to replicate his teams semi-final performance.
Fakenham got off to the best possible start with Harrison Futter and Billy Yarham scoring regular boundaries to put Swardeston on the back foot during the powerplay. 2 Quick wickets from back to back Jason Reynolds deliveries dismissed Yarham (25) and Sam Hunt (0) left the score on 36/2. An excellent partnership then took place between Futter (43) and Tom Hill (37 not out) took the score on 90 as Fakenham looked like they could set a score in excess of 140 with 5 overs to go and 8 wickets in hand. The innings turned as 15 year old Alfie Cooper took the important wickets of Futter and Nathan Thurston to halt momentum. Good death bowling from Tom Oxley (2 wickets) and Sonny Richmond (1 wicket) meant late runs were hard to come by and Swardeston finished strongly to restrict Fakenham to 128/7 from their allotted 20 overs.
Swardeston changed their order from the first semi-final as Ed Smith was promoted to open with Matthew Taylor. This experiment didn’t work as Smith was dismissed for 3 off the bowling of Tom Hill. The second wicket fell almost immediately as Taylor (16) was bowled by an excellent Nathan Thurston delivery to leave Swardeston in a spot of bother on 19/2 in the 3rd over. This bought Jason Reynolds & Alex Levinson together who both batted extremely well albeit in contrasting styles. Reynolds batted patiently and manoeuvred the ball into the gaps and kept the score board ticking whilst Levinson looked to dispatch every delivery to the boundary. This partnership changed the game and when Levinson was finally out for 46 from only 32 balls the score had moved onto 88 in the 12th over which meant Swardeston only needed another 41 from 53 balls. 14 Year old Flynn Drinkell joined Reynolds and they both batted sensibly to take the score beyond 100 but just as Reynolds looked like he was going to take his side to victory he was out for 25 from the bowling of Emily Woodhouse who bowled who bowled a superb spell to give Fakenham a chance of victory. 3 Quick boundaries for Drinkell meant that Swardeston only needed 11 runs from the final 4 overs with 6 wickets in hand. Queue a mini collapse as Drinkell, Kidner & Oxley all fell cheaply after some good bowling and very dodgy running between the wickets left the remaining players scrambling for pads as Fakenham looked to pull off the most unlikely victory. In the end it wasn’t to be for Fakenham as Alfie Cooper hit the winning boundary to give Swardeston victory by 3 wickets with 9 balls to spare.
The game changed with the partnership of Reynolds and Levinson and despite a good comeback from Fakenham, Swardeston were always ahead of the game and deserved their victory but full credit to Fakenham who played their part in an excellent final. Alex Levinson was named Man Of The Match after his quick fire runs set up the victory.
Henry Phoenix (Garboldisham Foxes) was presented with the bowler of the tournament trophy after taking 10 wickets. Kristian Williman (Garboldsham Foxes) was presented with the batsman of the tournament as he finished leading run scorer with 143 runs from his 4 innings.
Jason Reynolds collected the trophy for the Swardeston Sharks who were crowned inaugural Natwest Blast U19 Club T20 Champions for Norfolk 2015.
The Norfolk Cricket Board would like to thank all 12 sides for entering the brand new competition this season and hope that this year’s success will lead to the competition growing in coming seasons. We would also like to thank the ECB, Hosford Cricket Club and their dedicated team, DJ’s Rod and Ian, MC Matt Carver, 3 Umpires & 4 Scorers who made finals day such a great occasion for everyone who attended the day.
We look forward to running the competition once again in 2016.
Report: Lewis Denmark (NCB U19 Club T20 Organiser)