sorry…a little late. Blame the Chateuneuf du Pape!)

U13 Sussex Festival – Day Five

Middleton vs Stirlands- Home fixture
After last nights late drama then today surely couldn’t match it, or could it? The car park was already pretty full on our arrival, mostly with 4×4’s taking three spaces each. I knew what that meant, the opposition had made an early start. I had witnessed this previously,the ‘territory’ being drawn at roughly 2″ from and around the scorers tables,just to be sure on the scores (team scores of course, not just individuals) A few had started to run ahead of me, it was Birkenstocks on, white jeans assembled and Black lab’s at the ready….And that was just the dads. I love this fixture.
Thanks to Paul’s numeracy then we already knew that 12 points would get us to the final. Batting first our best strategy, so that we could book 10 batting points for 170 runs and take just two wickets. We talked it through and agreed our plan, we updated the boys and they all agreed. Christian again won the toss (bordering on spooky now) and we were batting.
Ben Mackley and Sam Patterson opening for us. Gadsby to open for Stirlands, off of the long run! Poor Ben got an absolute pearler first ball up, top of off stump,Wicket. Over one- 1 wicket down for 1 run. Charlie in at 3. Looked good, solid and unphased, striking with his usual power. Sam P next to go,another Gadsby wicket,damn shame as hoped he could have stuck around. Murray in next, taking some last minute instruction from Paul, play the long game. Charlie next to go, pushing across his pads off of the easier of the two openers,clearly gutted he headed back to the pavilion. This was not going to plan at all, we barely had 20 Runs in the board, 3 Wickets gone and 4 overs taken. Phoenix in next. On paper this is such a great batting line up,with layers always to come,but this might not be our day.
Phoenix showed great timing,leaning in to the best that Stirlands could offer and pushing 1’s,2’s and boundaries. Remember that Phoenix and Murray have batted a great deal together and we had hopes of another great partnership. It was too quick a single request from Phoenix that did for him, the ball heading straight for the fielder and he was already 2/3rds down the pitch, too far to head back, he knew it too. Another wicket down, Christian Bellamy next, looking for a Captains innings. At this stage we were less than 65,chasing 170!
Murray,that boy has grit. He reached his 50 first, seeing us into safer waters. Christian followed, they just looked so impressive and were striking boundaries off the weaker and the better bowling in equal measure. It was an absolute joy to see and slowly I could see the blood returning to Paul’s face. Over 31 and we were well in our way. I checked my phone and had a cheeky text from Steve Mackley, our umpire!! ..”How many overs are we batting? I need to tell the boys” I made clear that we would take all 37, get as far past 200 as possible. On they went,Harry was next in and was visibly relieved to see us past 170. They both carried their bats. Mature,powerful and intelligent innings.
Middleton 225 was the score to beat. Stirlands would have only 33 overs to do it. 
It was another very fine tea, held outside in the lovely sunshine. The boys were in great spirits, part one completed (10 batting points) now for part two (2 wickets and two crucial extra points). And so……
Charlie opened,straight and fast,6 off of it. Harry next from the pavilion end,Wicket first ball!!! The crowd were delirious again. LBW Beale, not happy but then who is? These two persisted for 5 overs each, keeping the batsmen honest and coming close on a few occasions, a great atmosphere was building. Last over for Harry, Wicket!! Another LBW and another resounding appeal from the entire team. Charlie ended on 5 overs 0-18 and Harry 7 overs 2-23 (after second spell). Great work boys.
100 runs up for Stirlands before the next strike. Phoenix and Rocco had a double spell of spin and really kept it tight. The key wicket of Barker was the prize for everyone, he is such a dangerous batsman. Phoenix took a great caught and bowled in his 5th over,ending with 7 overs,1-27. Rocco a supporting role with 3 for 0-21.
With the points needed now secured then we wanted to get everyone on to bowl and play their part. Ben and Christian had short spells without success. Alex Morley spun from the far end and looked good. 3 overs for 15 but it was turning. First ball of his fourth over…Barker finally can’t resist it, thumps it straight towards Don Hansford house,but not fully connected,it won’t be a six. As it started to fall we could all see Christian under his cap down in that scoreboard area,he settled himself and took the catch as though it was never in doubt. He celebrated and every single player ran across for a mass gathering and it was so, so good to see. Such great team spirit. The supporting army back at the Middleton pavilion loving this.
We ended with a winning draw, but very much with this particular point being proven. We were the better side and, whisper it gently….WE ARE ONLY IN THE FINAL AT ARUNDEL CASTLE!!!!!!!
Before closing and whatever happens on Sunday. On behalf of us all, huge thanks and respect to all of the ground staff at Middleton who made the place look every bit as glorious as it always did. And especially a huge thank you to Brian and to Will, without their commitment then these boys would never have achieved this. Thank you.

U13 week..huge enjoyment and success

Not sure where day 5 report is….probably still being written by Richard.

What a really strong week of teamwork and performance, which has secured a final tomorrow at Arundel Castle.

Thanks to all who contributed, it does require a huge effort from so many, especially over 5 days. I know some have played over 2/3 weeks and parents and players have really worked together.

Fully deserved success, the club are really proud of your cricket and the way you respect the game and your opponents.

Enjoy the day.