Having beat Glasgow Accies in the quarter-final the U15 cup side travelled to New Williamsfield to play in the finals day of the U15 ECB Vitality Cup – Scottish Region. They were set to face Gordonians in the semi-final, who had beaten a strong Clydesdale outfit in the previous round. The other semi-final would be between Watsonians and Aberdeenshire.
The journey to Stirling was rather demoralising as it was raining all the way, however, Stirling seemed to be the only place in the surrounding area that was still moderately dry. Fraser was not feeling too great so said he would prefer to be the 12th man for the first game and see how it went. Skipper Ewan won the toss and elected to bowl first on the main pitch at New Williamsfield in an 18 over a side contest. Ru McIntyre and Jamie Beattie opened up the bowling and kept things tight up the top. Ru claimed the first Gordonians wicket in the 3rd over, an extremely smart catch by Euan Keatinge at short extra. After 4 overs the opposition had been restricted to 14 for 1. Rudy came on and instantly put the pressure on, resulting in the Gordonian number 3 attempting to come back for a risky second and was run out by a flat Beattie throw into the hands of Gav Murray. Jamie finished off his three-over spell from the pavilion end going for just 1 run off his final over. However then the rain arrived and the covers came on but fortunately the break in play was brief and only one over of play was lost.
Rudy kept one end tight but the spinners struggled as the pitch wasn’t turning and anything short sat up. Vice-captain Murray suggested that Isaac should come on and his gambit paid off. Isaac went for just the one of his first over and picked up 2 wickets in the process. The first wicket was in the shape of Gordonians skipper Adi Hedge who was stumped for 24 in the 11th over. He then cleaned bowled the following batsman first ball. Gordonians sat at 46 for 4 after 11 overs. The intervention of Shaun Smith was interesting as the over read: 2b-1nb 1nb-4 . W . 1wd 1 . ., the wicket coming from a short ball providing Gav with an easy catch behind the stumps. Ru came back on and claimed another wicket, again clean bowled. Isaac picked up another one, this time caught by Ru. After a few missed run outs Gordonians were situated at 75 for 7 with just one over to go. Jamie went for just 7 runs and claimed his first wicket off the last ball of the innings, simple catch at mid-wicket for Rudy.
The U15s fielding was not up to standard and cost them an extra 10 runs and that put a bit more pressure on for the chase. Gav and Ru opened up and after having run an all run 4 both fell cheaply early on, Gav missing a straight one and Ru was ironically bounced out, resulting in the ball ending up in the hands of the mid off fielder. Murray and Euan Keatinge looked to rebuild but Euan was yorked for 3. Shaun joined up with Murray and ably stood and watched Murray delivered some lusty blows and running well at speed. Shaun played well giving Murray the strike but was bowled by the dangerous left arm opener who now had three wickets. Skipper Hutchie confidently saw his last few balls out. After 7 overs the Arrows were on 44 for 4, ahead of the run rate but wickets were falling at regular intervals. Hutchie fell 2 overs later to an exceptional juggling catch at mid-on, unfortunately picking out the tallest fielder. Restall came in and after a miss communication Murray was run out for a fine 36 (26). Matthew ran well with new man Charlie Kentish, but fell in the 14th over with just 7 more runs required. Jamie and Charlie saw the side home with just 3 wickets in hand and 9 balls to spare.
The bowling was the highlight of the U15’s semi-final performance with Foley taking 3-11 and Ru picking up 2-14, however, the fielding and batting really made the game much more difficult than it needed to be. Watsonians had comfortably beaten Aberdeenshire in the other semi-final so the final was set to be an all Edinburgh affair.
The tea put on by Stirling County was outstanding. There was an array of sandwiches, pizzas, selection of pastas and sweet treats with the juice having been already poured, an excellent brew. As a fellow Gav, I can safely say Gav Ritoo would have given this one a very high rating.
Ewan couldn’t repeat his efforts in the previous game and lost the toss, however, the outcome of the toss would not have changed who was batting, Carlton. Fraser again took his role as the 12th man and came on during the second innings and performed well despite feeling under the weather. In similar fashion to the last game both openers Gav and Ru fell cheaply going for 5 and 0 respectively. Again it was down to Murray and Euan to rebuild. Euan played a few lovely strokes and ran well with Murray who was putting the ball close to the boundary every other ball. Euan was bowled by a short one that just clipped the bails. Shaun came in and held up one end, not his usual game but one he adapted well, whilst Murray pulled anything short to the fence. After 8 overs Carlton were 45 for 3. For the next few overs neither Murray or Shaun faced any real loose balls but still managed to keep the score ticking over.
At the halfway mark the U15s had recovered from 37 for 3 to 59 for 3 in the space of 4 overs thanks to a very useful 4th wicket partnership. Having guided the ship past the 10 over point Murray decided to unload and hit a huge six over long on. Murray then retired in the 12th over having turned down a single instead opting to hit the next ball for 4 and retiring on an exceptional 53*. Hutchie joined Shaun briefly before missing a straight one. Charlie came in and rotated the strike well and forced Shaun to run hard. Shaun hit a lovely 4 but was caught and bowled attempting to hit out. Matthew Restall joined Charlie but nicked off trying to cut the ball. Jamie and Charlie made use of the last few overs and combined for a fine partnership of 24, full of opportunistic running and putting pressure on each and every fielder. The Arrows finished up on 115 for 6 off their 20 overs. Murray’s 53* the main contribution along with Jamie and Charlie’s 8th wicket partnership.
The Watsonian reply got off to a patient start as Ru went for just the single of his first. Jamie got a bit of tap but pulled it back with a wicket in his 2nd over pinning Bryen in front. Jamie bowled the other opener in his third over, with Rudy having put the pressure on the previous over. Watsonians were struggling at 27 for 2 after 6. A combination of the bowling of Rudy, Isaac and Hutchie bowled well in a tough part of the middle over period. However, the Watsonian batsmen ticked over well but dropped chances, inside edges just missing the stumps and missed run outs allowed Watsonians to build a partnership. After 12 overs Watsonians were situated at 63 for 2. Ru came back on for 1 over and went for just 3 which brought the required run rate up to 7s and 8s an over. Hutchie had an excellent 3rd over going for just 4 bowling well from the pavilion end. Hutchie claimed a well-deserved wicket in his 4th over bowling Baltzer for a well fought 38 (44). The Watsonian’s numbers 4 and 5 rotated the strike well but Isaac finished his 4 overs off with his best over of the game, going for 4 mainly from deflections behind square.
With 3 overs to go Watsonians were on 87 for 3 needing a further 29. Rudy, Ru and Jamie all having 1 over left each Rudy was elected to take the first. He bowled excellently for his 6 balls but the Watsonians number 5 came down the track to him last ball and punched him over extra cover to 4 which was an unfortunate end to a very good over. 22 required off 12. Ru bowled well but after some good running went for 8 including 4 singles and 2 twos. It was down to Jamie as Watsonians needed 13 to hit the target of 116, however, if Watsonains reached 115 with fewer than 6 wickets down they would claim victory on countback. So Jamie really had just 11 runs to play with. The Watsonian repeated his previous feat first ball of the last over, depositing Jamie over mid-off for 4. 8/9 runs needed off 5. Dot, wide yorker executed perfectly. 2 runs to cow corner just wide of Murray’s 2 saving arc. 6/7 needed off 3. With the field set right, it was just a single to long off. 5/6 needed off 2, 4 runs to play with. Dot, swish off the bat, straight through to the hands of Gav. 5/6 needed off 1. Single out to long-on! The U15s win the cup with 4 runs to spare! The tightest of finals was claimed by Carlton thanks to an all-round team performance. Condolences to Watsonians, they put up a real fight and just fell short at the last hurdle.
The outcome of that victory is that we will represent Scotland in the full ECB competition. We will face Tynedale CC (Hexham) away in the next round on the 21st of July.
A massive thanks to Stirling CC for putting the whole day on. To the groundstaff for the quick outfields despite the rain and to the tea staff for the unbelievable tea. To the organisers at Cricket Scotland, to the opposition, the umpires and to the parents for delivering the players. And finally to the players for making the day special for everyone involved at Carlton Cricket Club.