U15's Crowned County Champions

by Vince Reddick

After the fine win (and long trip) away to Barnstaple, we had our first home draw of the ECB U15 National Club Cup in the Final. We had won the right to host Paignton U15's in a match that would determine who would claim the title of 'Best Under 15 Club side in the County'.

As the clouds parted and the sun shone - Paignton had bought the sunshine with them after a cloudy morning, it was down to business having watched our under 12's finish off Woodbury. As the Exeter Manager set up some 'man size' boundaries for the teams, the Umpires arrived and so did ECB Cricket Development Officer, Matt Theedom, to preset the trophy and medals to the winners. 

Boundaries established, stumps in - Lets get it on! Jake Reddick (Captaining in the absence of the injured Jamie Telford) shook hands with visiting skipper Dan Wolf and up went the coin. Wolfie had called it wrong and Jake invited the visitors to bat. Discussions were had before the game, and the feeling was our batting was strong and we could chase 150 - even with the big boundaries.

As 'Big Dom' Gaywood took the new ball from the Pavilion End, the levels of anticipation increased as the parents watched on in nervous expectation. Dom opened with a good over, conceding just 2 runs. Harry Molins opened from the Park End, and with Noah Wright and Dan Wolf looking to get Paignton off to a good start, Harry's mission was to keep it tight.

Seven runs from H's first over, no damage done, but the in-form Paignton duo were out to get a good start. Dom had a two over burst which cost just 4 runs, whilst at the other end Harry was struggling. Paignton were 24 from 4 overs - a better start than we wanted to concede. Jake needed to make changes! He bought August Aalto on from the Pavilion End and he immediately claimed the wicket of Noah Wright for 7, and a couple of overs later had Dan Wolf caught by Fergus Vinnels for 27. 45 for 2 from 9 overs was a good return on a fast outfield. Jake wasn't giving anything away at the other end,  and the with 8 overs to go Paignton were on 72 for 2. 

Our problem was trying to keep it tight with Paignton having wickets in hand. Tom Blundell looked to punish anything loose, and he had plundered an aggressive 38 before being bowled by Jake who had bought himself back on for a one over burst. As Jake shuffled the pack in the last few overs, Paignton's batsmen couldn't settle against the constant bowling changes and another wicket for Jake (in his third spell finishing with 2 for 17 from 4 overs), and a well deserved wicket for the returning Dom Gaywood (4-0-19-1) saw Paignton finish on 135 for 6.

Probably 20 runs more than they should've scored - we had been somewhat profligate with the wides and a couple of miss fields, but well within what we felt would be a par score on that wicket.

Jake opened with Fergus Vinnels, and the plan was to take what the opening bowlers offered, but take no chances! The pair batted perfectly to instructions as they saw off the opening bowlers with 20 on the board after 5 overs. Jake was supporting Fergus who began to accelerate against the change bowlers. Some powerful hitting by both batsman saw the scoring rate climb dramatically as Jake and Fergus took control of the run chase. The pair went from 49 after 8 overs, to 89 after 12 overs and we were in control.

Fergus reached a well deserved 50 first and retired. The pair had put on 98, and a few balls later Jake reached his 50 and also retired. Following the 'speed bump' of losing Matty Marsh for a duck, Paddy Poustie arrived to finish the game off. Paddy was only playing thanks to  John and Lindsey leaving a family commitment in Suffolk at 5.30am to get back in time!

Tom Williamson and Paddy played positively as they looked to finish quickly. Tom was playing well before pulling a long-hop straight to square leg - 130 for 2, only 6 needed with 3 overs to go. Dom came out and flicked a four of his legs and the end was in sight. 

Skipper Dan Wolf bought himself back on and an extravagant (typical Paddy) shot won us the game with 11 balls to spare. A great team performance, with Oz Martin claiming a catch, Ben Howkins, Oz, Harry Molins and August (2 for 20) bowling, and Will Bentley racing around the field with his teammates, it was a well deserved win that sees us progress to the next phase of the ECB National Club Championship.

Everyone should be proud of what they have achieved, Joe Holmes, George Hunt, Tom Murphy, Ben Green and Seb Lewis have all played in earlier rounds, and today's win was for our injured Captain Jamie Telford who had also played a big part in earlier matches. The strength in depth has proved a major contributor to the team's success.

Watch this space for details of the Regional Finals! Well done lads!

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