Youngster Matthew Taylor was the man for the big occasion as Swardeston booked their place in the final of the national Royal London Club Championship after a truly incredible finish at The Common.
More often than not it’s the batsmen who take centre stage in big limited overs games but on this occasion a bowler was the hero as the hosts edged past Weybridge by one run to secure a trip to the County Ground at Northampton on Sunday, September 18. Going into the final over of a brilliant game of cricket that ebbed and flowed all afternoon, the Surrey outfit needed just two runs to win but, crucially, with just two wickets in hand and the well set Phil Mann at the wrong end as far as they were concerned.
At the end of it Taylor was making a frantic celebratory dash to the boundary, with his colleagues in hot pursuit, after completing a wicket maiden that had the bulk of a 350-plus crowd on their feet.
He started the over with three dot balls to tailender Francois Vainker and then had him caught off the fourth to put Weybridge under real pressure. It was then up to Henry Turner to try to hit the winning runs and all hell broke loose after the No 11 had taken two swings and two misses.
While Taylor rightly took the plaudits at the end Joe Gatting had also played a key role in the previous over by bowling the impressive Brent Kay, who had put on a quick-fire 63 with Mann that appeared to have taken the visitors to the brink of victory.
Gatting also shone with the bat, top scoring with 91 as Swardeston posted a solid total of 245-9 in their 45 overs.
Coming in after Peter Lambert, Jordan Taylor and Stephen Gray had gone in quick succession, Gatting hit seven fours and four sixes in his 88-ball knock to get the hosts well past the 200-mark, with Freddie Ruffell (40) providing support.
Weybridge got close to three figures for the loss of just one wicket, but then slid to 172-7, with an asking rate of more than seven an over.
The star man with the bat was opener Ben Curran, whose brothers Sam and Tom both play for Surrey. He reached 75 from 91 balls, and was threatening to guide his side over the line, when he tried a risky second run and was run-out by a fine throw from Tom Oxley. Kay (43) and Mann (41 not out) then took up the challenge – but it was Swardeston who had the final say to make it two national finals to look forward to, following the previous week’s success in the Club Twenty20 competition.