Brave fightback – but Lord’s dream is over

PUBLISHED: 11:59 24 May 2007 | UPDATED: 15:06 12 May 2010

Matt Skelding: Three wickets – Pic: Dick Harding

Matt Skelding: Three wickets – Pic: Dick Harding

THE National Village Cup Final dream is over for Ashwell after they narrowly failed to snatch a spectacular victory from the jaws of defeat against Botany Bay on Sunday. It was the village s first appearance for 25 years in the prestigious competition th

THE National Village Cup Final dream is over for Ashwell after they narrowly failed to snatch a spectacular victory from the jaws of defeat against Botany Bay on Sunday.

It was the village's first appearance for 25 years in the prestigious competition that features teams from all over England, Wales and Scotland.

Vice captain Jonathan Merrell said: "Hopefully the boys will now have a taste for it and try again next year.

"Part of the attraction of the Village Cup was to come up against teams that are not normally on our radar, so it has been a good experience for us, and made us realise that we can give a good game to the senior teams of the Hertfordshire league."

Facing a strong Botany Bay side on home soil and batting first, Ashwell were unfortunate to lose two of their key batsmen Matt Skelding (7) and Martyn Deal (7) to two misplaced shots early on.

They then proceeded to lose much of their middle order to the low bounce of the pitch, with Gary Simmons (6), Jonathan Merrell (4), and Steve Parkhouse (0) finding the conditions difficult.

Respectability was recovered, however, with Tom Wallace's 11, and Tom Simmons showed authority in the second half of the innings with his 12 runs.

Their late surge was not to be enough though, and the hosts could manage only 69.

Botany Bay's reply was far from clinical, with both Skelding and Gary Simmons finding the stumps with well-taken wickets.

But the visitors' rhythm picked up when in the midst of some very testing circumstances, opening batsmen David Lawrence (34) played some intelligent cricket and pushed Botany Bay to 53-3 and on to the verge of victory.

However, the visitors' confidence was knocked when Skelding (3-29), James Higham (3-14) and Gary Simmons (2-26) combined to send them tumbling to 64-8 - and suddenly the impossible seemed very possible.

But just when Ashwell looked close to snatching victory, Botany Bay upped their game, with Carl Spychal (6) and Phil Marchant (2) doing just enough to find the necessary runs and claim a two-wicket victory.

Merrell added: "It was a frustrating afternoon, because after batting poorly it seemed like we might have pulled off the win, which would have been great.

"It would have been brilliant to have got through a couple more rounds, and it would have been nice for our dream of a Lord's final to have lasted a bit longer!"

The defeat now means Ashwell can focus on their promotion bid, after pulling out of the league cup because it clashed with their National Village Cup game.

"The league season has started off very well, and now our primary aim is to win promotion to Cambridgeshire Junior Division 1," said Merrell.

"After finishing second last year, the hope is that we can go one better this time around.

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