Belhus Cricket Club were the last team standing as they won the ECB Indoor National Championship final yesterday, following a day of high tension and excellent cricket at Lord’s.
The first semi-final at the MCC Indoor Academy brought together Belhus CC and Haverfordwest CC from Wales.
Batting first, Haverfordwest were put under early pressure by opening Belhus bowler Danny Norris, who enjoyed a maiden wicket in his second over when he caught and bowled Simon Holliday for eight.
Ben Field and Nigel Delaney built a very useful partnership before Field retired on 25. Next out to the crease was Haverfordwest captain Daniel Potter but he was soon bowled by opposing captain Joe Joyce for three.
This was quickly followed by Huw Scriven caught and bowled off Martin Guilbert to leave the Welsh side 53-5.
Delaney and Ajay Revu moved the score on to 71 before Revu was caught for nine by Michael Fogg off Scriven’s bowling. The returning Field was then run out at the non-striker’s end and Delaney was the last man to fall, leaving Haverfordwest all out for 79.
Belhus started confidently in their chase at 10 an over as Guilbert and Joe Joyce put on 35 for the first wicket before Guilbert was trapped lbw for 12 off the bowling of Holliday.
Joe Joyce retired on 27 and Fogg was joined by Daniel Joyce, with the pair advancing to 53 before Fogg was dismissed by Potter for nine.
Daniel Joyce and Norris steadied the ship from that point on and they reached their target of 80-2 with 13 balls remaining.
Whitley Hall CC from Yorkshire took on Exeter University CC from Devon in what proved to be a very close second semi-final.
The Yorkshire side won the toss and opted to bowl first.
After the loss of opener Ross Powell for six, Michael Harris and captain Alex Hughes both reached 25 before retiring to put Exeter in a strong position.
Henry Sensecall was then run out for 10 before Max Mannering was caught for a duck. Kavan Sinha was subsequently run out by Doug Muzawazi for three as Exeter went from 84-1 to 91-4.
Harris and Hughes returned to the crease and added a further 16 runs before Hughes was run out off the final ball of the innings, a third run-out victim for James Brown.
Exeter University finished on 107-5 from their 12 overs.
Despite not getting any wickets, Neil Longhurst’s 0-11 from his three overs showed excellent control with a swinging ball to keep the target down for the Yorkshire side.
The students had the better of the start of the Whitley Hall reply as they took early wickets. James Smith was run out by Powell for three before Dave Handley followed in the same fashion, with a run out by Harris.
Powell then dismissed Longhurst to leave Whitley Hall struggling at 37-3.
Captain Sam Chatterton and Muzawazi rebuilt the innings, rotating the strike well with a particularly impressive display by Muzawazi. He retired on reaching 25 but last batsman James Brown stayed in as Whitley Hall needed 15 from the final over.
Chatterton reached 25, prompting the return of Muzawazi and he struck the required three off the last ball to secure a three-wicket victory for the Yorkshiremen and see them into the final against Belhus.
The Exeter University players were devastated at missing out but they played an integral part in what was a fantastic indoor cricket match played to a very high standard.
With both finalists chasing down targets in their respective semi-finals, the toss for the final was vital.
Belhus won and elected to send Whitley Hall in to bat. They saw James Smith stumped by Daniel Joyce off the bowling of Daniel Dreher for 0 and then had Dave Handley run out for nine to leave the Yorkshire side on 23-2.
Neil Longhurst and Sam Chatterton then both scored well and retired to bring semi-final hero Muzawazi and James Brown to the wicket.
Martin Guilbert took the wicket of danger-man Muzawazi – caught and bowled for six – and followed up with his second wicket as Brown was stumped by Daniel Joyce for 12.
Longhurst and Chatterton returned to take the score past 100 before Danny Norris dismissed both men in the final over as Whitley Hall finished on 114 all out from their 12 overs.
Belhus got their innings off to the perfect start as openers Guilbert and Joe Joyce both reached 25 to retire, but the momentum of the match changed with Chatterton’s introduction to the attack.
He bowled new batsmen Michael Fogg and Daniel Joyce for 0 and, despite his hat-trick ball going for a wide, the final ball of the sixth over saw Norris run out for four as Belhus went from 54-0 to 59-3.
Final batsman Dreher was joined by the returning Joe Joyce and the pair worked hard to swing proceedings back in favour of the Essex side.
Dreher rotated the strike well and the impressive Joyce moved Belhus closer to their target, hitting five 4s in the process.
It was Joyce who had the final say as he hit the winning single to finish on an unbeaten 53 and seal a three-wicket win for Belhus with three balls to spare.