Having won their own Hertfordshire Junior League County Championship, then going on to knock out the County Champions of Suffolk, (Mildenhall CC), Surrey, (Royal Ascot CC), and perennial Middlesex Champions, (Eastcote CC), in the London and South-East Regional Finals 10 days earlier, Hertfordshire’s Shenley Village CC headed to Rugby School Tuesday for the ECB’s U13 National Club Championship Finals day. The boys and four parents travelled up Monday night, were hosted by the ECB who laid on dinner and put the team up overnight. The semi-final draw was made over dinner pairing Shenley Village with Derbyshire and the North of England Regional Champions, Denby CC, whilst the Gloucestershire and South and West Regional Champions, Dumbleton CC drawn to play the Bedfordshire and Midlands Regional Champions, Bedford CC.
Denby, who boasted 6 County players in their ranks, won the toss and decided to bat first. They started well reaching 50 for 2 in 9 overs before being pegged back by Oliver White, (3 for 12 off 4), and Will Poynton, (3 for 15 off 3), to finish on 85 for 9 from their 20 overs. The champagne moment of the day came when Graydon Orchard took the most tremendous catch at “deep-cow-corner” well over and indeed behind his head to account for one of Derbyshire’s leading County batsman this year. Other notable performances in the Denby innings were Mitchell Wagstaff’s 33 retired off 34 balls and two very tight bowling spells from Toby Elliott and Zahid Nasser, both of whom ended with figures of 0 for 12 off their respective four overs.
Shenley’s reply got off to a disastrous start that saw them 0 for 2 off 1.3 overs! But a steady 18 from Max Delyfer, 21 not out from Oliver White and a blistering 29 off 14 balls from Toby Elliott saw Shenley safely home and into the final in 14 overs.
The other semi-final saw Gloucestershire’s Dumbleton CC bowled out by Bedford CC 74, only for Dumbleton to then bowl Bedford out for 58, thereby setting up an all-southern final.
Shenley won the toss and decided to bat. Statistically, Dumbleton have one of the best bowling attacks in the country, rarely having conceded more than 60 runs in the T20 format of the game all season. Both openers Ryan Kilimister and captain Will Guilderson were particularly impressive, the latter having England’s Jake Ball effusing over his, and indeed Shenley’s Toby Elliott’s, fast bowling potential. A well-crafted and doggedly determined 30 retired from Shenley’s Max Delyfer, supported by a crucial 14 runs towards the end from Ben Werter enabled Shenley, who kept losing wickets at vital stages, limp to 102 all-out.
A very fired up spell from Toby Elliott, who removed two of Dumbleton and Gloucestershire’s highest scoring County batsmen in two balls, seemed to set Shenley on their way as Dumbleton were reduced to 34 for 5 in 7.2 overs. Sam Baines and Archie Bailey looked like they were taking the game away from Shenley as they added 36 Dumbleton runs in the next 4 overs. But a maiden, followed by a double wicket maiden from Oliver White put the brakes on before Zahid Nasser, also with two wickets in 2 balls saw Dumbleton bowled out for 81, Shenley getting home by 21 runs.
England’s Jake Ball, (who doubled up as drinks carrier in the final), presented the medals to four very tired, but very proud teams who had beaten off more than 1,600 other teams.