Sunlight was practically nonexistent when Tutbury’s U15s needed 8 off the final over. The crowd were consumed in tension combined with the evening cold setting in. The ball was barely in sight, despite it being changed to pink. And yet, after 3 hours of exhilarating, gripping cricket, Walmley kept Tutbury’s tail down to 4 runs, winning by the narrowest of margins.
Having a quick look at how these 2 fantastic sides got here, 2 concessions put Walmley straight in the firing line of the semifinal against Rolleston CC. However, it was a comfortable win for them – after making a competitive 122-4 powered by Rishi Dadwal’s 43* off 28, they tied Rolleston down to just 86 in their allotted 20 overs. Tutbury beat Uttoxeter in the quarter-final by 53 runs, Lysander Schubert-Hobbs top-scoring with 41* off 23 and captain Evan Dhanda hitting 40 off 18. In the semifinal against Walmley U15Bs at Court Lane, Walmley’s batsmen didn’t get going, only making 69/9 which Tutbury chased down in 15 overs
After the original date being rained out last Tuesday, the match finally got underway under ominous clouds. Walmley’s openers Yousuf Akbar and Dhruv Malhi were like fire and ice: equally measured and attacking, respecting the good balls, punishing the bad ones and sprinting between the wickets. Yousuf even hit 4 boundaries in the 6th over off Hassan A. They put Walmley in pole position – 65-0 after 7 overs. Left-arm chinaman Devin Fernando picked up the first wicket, bowling Dhruv for 15. Yousuf retired on 41 (33) in supreme fashion, clearing the mid-wicket boundary, a well-made innings containing 5 fours and a six. His departure gave Tutbury a foot in the door as captain Evan Dhanda had Rishi caught for 3 and seized a caught & bowled opportunity of Greg Rushton. Devin then caught a rebound off captain Sebastian Tibbins and suddenly the batters were in a spot of bother at 86-4. With Kian Eratne stumped off Devin’s bowling in his final over, ending up with excellent figures of 3-20, the trophy seemed to be slipping away. Enter Krish Chauhan: with the main bowlers of Devin and Evan seen off, he cashed in, making a fine 30 with 4 boundaries. In the end, Walmley concluded on 142-8, a good total for a final but they would have been disappointed considering the brilliant start they had.
Contrary to Walmley’s innings, Tutbury couldn’t get off to a flier. But, they were still on track after striking 5 fours in the first 5 overs. Dhruv provided the valuable breakthrough in the 6th over, putting Tutbury at 34-1. From there on, apart from the occasional boundary, Walmley’s bowlers kept the runs at a minimum. As the sun began to fade, singles became doubles with a few mistakes in the field and everyone gradually struggled to see the ball. Farhan got a much-needed wicket in the 13th, clean bowling Devin for 18 and Yousuf contributed with the ball as well, getting another wicket in the next over. Opener Lysander Schubert-Hobbs retired on 40 with a boundary in the 16th over, a stroke-filled, important knock that kept Tutbury in the game. With 4 overs to go, Tubury needed 45 off 4, a tough ask as all eyes fell on captain Evan Dhanda known for his shots. The 17th over saw him releasing the pressure with 2 fours and new batsman Oliver Stretch hitting a six off Farhan to take Tutbury to 114 (29 needed). The 18th started well for them as Evan smashed back-to-back boundaries. Running 2 off the third delivery and after finding the fence again, all of a sudden, Tutbury looked in control needing 15 off 14, just over a run a ball. Krish replied back with a full and straight delivery, crashing into Evan’s stumps and bringing some life and cheer into the home crowd. Dhruv came back and bowled Oliver as he swung across the line, resulting in an elevated celebration from the team.
This fascinating match came down to the final over, a land where strange things are bound to happen, Tutbury needing 8 to make it 2-in-2 wins over the U14As in the final. The star with the bat Yousuf is handed the ball. First ball – single. Second ball – 2 byes, even the slightly more visible pink ball evading the keeper Abhay Misra’s hands; 5 needed off 4. Third ball – wicket! A run out at the striker’s end and the crowd are jubilant. Fourth ball – a single, 4 needed from 2 balls, the away team still not out of the picture. Fifth ball – wicket! Another run out at the keeper’s end, the second in the over and Walmley are ecstatic, seconds away from a thrilling victory. The last ball, 4 needed. Yousuf runs in, Aaron digs it out to mid-off and sets off, the throw comes in, the keeper collects it and…IT’S A RUN OUT! The umpire raises his finger as the sun completely sets to declare an unbelievably narrow yet infinitely joyous win to the home team. The crowd aloft and Tutbury dejected, Walmley’s boys run and scream in delight as they overcome their nemesis from last year.
A huge congratulations to manager Darrell Tibbins and his talented team for finishing Champions of the Burton & District Under 15 Cup 2021. It is an amazing most-deserved feat considering that they were the only U14 team in the competition. A big well done to Tutbury CC’s U15 for coming ever so close to being winners 2 years in a row. Thank you to all the parents for playing an instrumental role behind the scenes and to the supporters who came to rally on their home team.
Walmley CC 142-8 (Yousuf Akbar 41*, Krish Chauhan 30*, Devin Fernando 3-20) beat Tutbury CC 139-8 (Lysander Schubert-Hobbs 40*, Evan Dhanda 27, Dhruv Malhi 2-22) by 3 runs