Thrilling climax sees Barney lift title
Barnard Castle CC
BARNARD Castle are league champions. For the second time in three years they won the North Yorkshire and South Durham League Premier Division title in a thrilling, sometimes nerve-wracked season finale.
Their comprehensive 111 run defeat of Marton ensured they stayed top of the table, a mere four points ahead of the 2017 champions, Great Ayton. It follows their inaugural championship in 2016 when they took the title with a game to spare.
Paying tribute to the team, the club’s director of cricket, Michael Stanwix, said: “That first title was special, of course, but in some ways this is an even sweeter triumph.
“At the start of this season we had lost four players from the previous year including the captain. It was such a young team that the feeling was that a mid-table finish was perhaps the best to be hoped for.”
But under the calm guidance of new skipper James Quinn, the side defied all expectations and despite the occasional lapse always found a way of coming back. They held their nerve in the final weeks with fighting draws against their closest title rivals, Ayton and Richmondshire, and victories against the odds over Middlesbrough and Stokesley.
“We’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable time of it,” said Captain Quinn. “I said quite early in the season that we would be aiming to win one of the cups and have a good run in the league.
“But as the weeks went by I knew we were capable of challenging all the way. The lads have responded magnificently and when we’ve been up against it someone always came to the rescue.”
If every member of the team had their days in the sun at some point in the summer, Quinn himself was the chief contributor throughout. His swashbuckling 37 on Saturday when quick runs were needed with the title in touching distance was a case in point.
“I couldn’t have asked for more from the season,” he said.
“We have the biggest and most passionate support in the league and coupled with the boys’ hard work and determination it was a really potent combination.”
There was a fraught, nervous atmosphere around the ground on Saturday as the teams practised and supporters began to arrive. Barney’s first crucial task was to try to ensure they batted first because under the existing NYSD league system, 25 points are awarded for a team which wins batting first with only 20 available for a team winning batting second.
With only four points separating the top two teams, it was therefore possible that Barney could lose the lead and the title by a point if they batted second and Ayton batted first.
When it emerged that visitors Marton were disinclined to do Barney any favours and would bat first if they won the toss the nerves quotient increased. Quinn had won 15 of 20 previous tosses in the league. Surely he was destined to lose one?
All eyes were on the captains as they went out to the middle. Quinn flipped the coin, Marton captain Alex Wardell called. The captains shook hands, Quinn signalled that the team were batting.
But before play could start, rain came down. There was a delay of more than an hour.
At Great Ayton they were playing and Ayton were batting first.
For long enough, it seemed as if the clouds over the Vere Road ground would refuse to budge. Gradually, however, they shifted. By the time play began, the match was reduced to 39 overs a side.
Barney had the worst possible start. They lost a wicket to the first ball when Alasdair Appleby, his feet barely moving, was bowled.
Barney responded superbly. Despite another brief break for rain causing the loss of another four overs, Mike Dixon and Hashan Dumindu took the attack to Marton in a thrilling stand of 100. Dixon played a series of spectacular shots, Dumindu unfurled classic cover drives by the bat load.
When Dixon was leg before for a rousing 48 from 46 balls which included six fours and two sixes, Quinn sustained the momentum. When he departed, bowled attempting something extravagant, there was a middle order wobble.
But Dumindu stayed at the crease undaunted and then accelerated rapidly as Barney looked for a declaration. It came after 34 overs, leaving them 40 to take the ten wickets they needed for the title.
Both Josh Bousfield and Giles Creedon struck early and from 23 for 3 with a weak tail there was to be no recovery for Marton.
Appleby had the perfect platform to take wickets and Barney did not relent. The end came from the last ball of the 32nd over when Phil Merryweather executed his fifth stumping of a grand year behind the stumps.
He was not alone. There were grand years galore for a team which on the final day contained eight players who had come through the club ranks, most of them playing in junior cricket together under the guiding hand of John Walker and John Ashworth, who is still continuing the production line of cricketers.
Club chairman David Sparrow said: “This is a tremendous achievement by James and his team. For a small town like Barney to be competing like this against big town clubs is magnificent and reflects the efforts of both the players and people behind the scenes.
“I really couldn’t be prouder. Barney won by four points but over the course of the season, while it all came down to a toss, I really feel we were the best side.”
To cap it all, Quinn has topped the league batting averages and the super overseas amateur, Creedon, who has fitted in perfectly, is top of the league bowling averages. Although leg spinner Richard Watson had a slightly better average, he did not take quite enough wickets to qualify.
A Appleby b Allinson 0, M Dixon lbw Wardell 48, H Dumindu c Swan b Gettings 86, J Quinn b Gettings 37, R Borrowdale c Spillane b Zahid 1, G Creedon c de Vlieg b Gettings 4, J Bousfield st De Vlieg b Zahid 4, R Watson c Wardell b Zahid 3, R Dixon c Spillane b Zahid 0, P Merryweather not out 3, T Merryweather not out 11, Extras 7, Total 204 for 9 dec (34 overs)
Bowling: C Allinson 7-0-41-1, M Connolly 4-0-35-0, A Wardell 7-0-45-1, M Zahid 10-3-28-4, L Gettings 6-0-53-3
J Spillane c&b Creedon 1, L De Vlieg c P Merryweather b Bousfield 0, C Allinson c R Dixon b Bousfield 14, B Hutchinson c T Merryweather b Appleby 34, A Wardell c M Dixon b Watson 7, J Swan b Appleby 11, M Zahid c P Merryweather b Watson 4, M Connolly c Bousfield b Appleby 5, M Philpot b Bousfield 8, L Gettings not out 6, T Gordon st P Merryweather b Appleby 2, Extras 1, Total 93 all out (32 overs)
Bowling: J Bousfield 9-2-33-2, G Creedon 7-2-17-1, R Watson 7-1-20-2, A Appleby 9-4-23-4. Barney won by 111 runs
Barnard Castle III v
Darlington RA III
BARNEY kept alive their hopes of staying in the Sunday Premier Division with a sterling victory over bottom-placed Darlington RA.
Tight bowling ensured RA began slowly and Barney’s fielding was excellent, highlighted by Andrew Gedye’s wonderful diving catch at mid-wicket.
Adventurous batting by Finn Usher, veteran John Walker making yet another return, and later by Cameron McKnight, who finished with a flourish, brought home the points.
Darlington RA 187 all out (39.4 overs, B Carvey 55no, C Edwards 47, B Usher 3-23, T Truss 2-36, F Usher 2-66); Barney 188 for 5 (35.4 overs, F Usher 79, C McKnight 31, J Walker 19) Barney won by five wickets