Cricket: Barney fall at the final hurdle
Barnard castle CC
IT was a match too far for Barney. After a gruelling season in which they played 42 fixtures, the last and most important was beyond them.
They lost the final of the National Club Twenty20 on Sunday by five wickets to Tunbridge Wells. The Kent team were worthy and deserved winners, making early inroads into Barney’s innings and recovering superbly from their own initial losses.
To have gone so far in such a prestigious competition deserves enormous credit but that was probably scant consolation to a team which has usually found a way of eking out victory even from the darkest of holes.
James Quinn, the side’s captain, said of his players: “Our success this year has been a massive squad effort, 14 or 15 lads all playing their part throughout. The standards set by our two brilliant professionals, Karl Carver and Samarth Seth, have been top notch.”
It was Carver who was prominent in ensuring that Barney stayed in proceedings, played at Wantage Road, home of Northants. Seth, who had flown back from India for the final, had a quiet match but without his four successive fifties in the regional rounds when Barney became northern T20 champions, they might not have been there.
Barney went into the match having already won the NYSD League’s T20 competition, the Macmillan Cup, and the 100 tournament as well as being losing finalists in the 40-over Kerridge Cup and runners-up in the league.
That level of success demanded a lot of the players. On most weekends from June onwards they were playing two matches with at least one more in midweek.
By any standards it has been a wonderful summer, as their travelling band of supporters made clear at Northampton. To have become national champions in cricket’s most popular format would have put an orchard of cherries on top.
Barney batted after winning the toss, suspecting that a tired pitch may make run-scoring difficult later. But they needed a workable total to lend substance to that theory and the chances of that receded quickly.
To the fourth ball of the innings Josh Bousfield, understandably seeking quick early runs, was out, driving pace bowler Bailey Wightman to mid-off. In Wightman’s next over, Quinn was held low at backward point. And then in the fourth over Richard Borrowdale chanced his arm against Joe McCaffrey’s leg spin and, failing to make any sort of proper contact, was caught off the resultant leading edge.
Much now rested with Seth. But having endured a long flight from Delhi the previous day he never looked quite at home on a sluggish pitch. When he pulled in desperation to square leg, Barney were 43-4 and in dire danger of collapse.
But Carver, accompanied by Finn Usher, gradually pulled Barney back into it. Carver was always acquisitive, Usher bided his time and refused to panic. Their determination was rewarded by Tunbridge Wells becoming more and more ragged in the field.
The big shots came for both batsmen and their partnership of 43 from 50 balls symbolised a team which has made it their business never to give up on the game. Usher was run out going for a necessary two and James Clarkson then played a lovely hand in helping Carver.
The sixth wicket pair put in 39 at exactly a run a ball and Carver finished unbeaten on 55 from 49 balls. With a total of 125-5 they were in the game but only just with the pitch suggesting that a par score was perhaps 145.
Barney needed early wickets and they got them. Chris Williams drove Bousfield’s fifth ball high to mid-off where Rob Dixon pouched the catch running backwards and Carver then deceived Viraj Bhatia who tried an ill-advised drive.
The key man was Alex Williams, who has been in prolific form all season, and he settled quickly and ominously to his work. A glorious pick up shot for six followed immediately by an edged four were reflected a man in form and in luck, a lethal combination.
Barney refused to go quietly, however. A smart stop and throw by Quinn gave them a third wicket and when Usher took wickets in successive overs, a catch off a reverse sweep and an lbw, Barney were in it.
But Williams had other ideas and in Matt Barker he found a perfect foil. Tunbridge needed 41 off the last six overs but 9, 10 and 10 off the next three eased their passage. A maiden by Carver delayed them but Barker finished it with 6, 4 and 4, the partnership was worth 44 from 31 balls and there were nine balls to spare.
Quinn summed it up for his players before the match. “In my opinion the main attribute this squad has is the togetherness, the will to win and we never give up,” he said.
J Quinn C Barker b Wightman 2, J Bousfield c Smith b Wightman 0, S Seth c Wightman b Smith 9, R Borrowdale c Bhatia b McCaffrey 0, K Carver not out 55, F Usher run out 22, J Clarkson not out17, Extras 20 Total (20 overs) 125 for 5
Bowling – B Wightman 4-0-21-2, J McCaffrey 4-0-31-1, M Waller 4-1-12-0, D Smith 4-1-21-1, McClean 1-0-6-0, M Barker 3-0-30-0
V Bhatia c Merryweather b Carver 5, C Williams c Dixon b Bousfield 0, A Williams not out 53, I McClean run out 5, M Waller c Borrowdale b Usher 15, D Smith lbw Usher 5, M Barker not out 35, Extras 10, Total (18.3 overs) 128 for 5
J Bousfield 4-0-37-1, K Carver 4-1-12-1, R Dixon 2.3-0-30-0, R West 2-0-16-0, T Merryweather 3-0-17-0, F Usher 3-0-16-2
Tunbridge Wells won by 5 wkts