by Rich Abbott
A brutal innings of 63 from 31 balls from 17 year-old Nick Doyle saw Woodhouses CC (Lancashire) win the 2011 Persimmon Village Cup final with a 58-run win over Rottingdean CC (Sussex) in a 10-over shoot-out, following the abandonment of the 40-over game due to a long rain delay.
Doyle put on 83 in a decisive opening stand with Josh Tolley (36) and proceeded to smash three sixes in the final over of the innings – the first to bring up his fifty from just 28 balls – to set an intimidating 113 to win.
The first match, abandonned after 13 overs when the threatening cloud cover finally gave way, saw Woodhouses restrict Rottingdean to 43 for 3. But after an enforced break of nearly four hours, the Lord’s bell tolled at 3.40pm and the umpires led the players out for the second time, delighting a frustrated crowd who proceeded to cheer wildly every dot ball and run. Drastically reduced it may have been but the teams, both first-time finalists, were to get a game at the Home of Cricket after all.
Rottingdean won the toss and elected to bowl. Woodhouses, with an average age in the low 20s, wasted no time targetting the short boundary and demonstrating youthful exuberance between the wickets. Twenty year-old opener Josh Tolley showed why is the leading scorer in this year’s competition, keeping his side ticking over at 10-runs-an-over for the first half of the innings.
Doyle, not to be outdone, blasted a six over mid-on to bring up the fifty partnership from just 34 balls. Faced with two well set batsmen, Rottingdean spread the field. Amid a flurry of boundaries and in desperate need of inspiration, Rottingdean found it in the form of Alex Potter. The tall quick produced a lively and energetic spell from the Pavilion End, generating pace, adjusting well to the Lord’s slope and having more success than his colleagues by pitching the ball up.
Potter secured a breakthrough with the wicket of Tolley in the eigth over but just as Rottingean seemed to be pinning their northern opponents back, Doyle launched his 10th over assault, dispatching Potter into the Tavern Stand, over the heads of the delighted Woodhouses supporters. A six off the last ball of the innings lifted Woodhouses’ 10-over total to a large 112 for 1.
The sun came out for the second innings, but Rottingdean may not have noticed as big-hitting Najmus Jamil fell victim to Luke Swards (1 for 16) in the first over.
Pressure built up through dot balls and athletic fielding – not least from Luke Swards, who dived forward at mid wicket to take a stunning catch to dismiss Rottingdean captain Henry Ledden – consolidated Woodhouses’ strong position. A Rottingdean challenge that was faltering, was killed off in the seventh over of the innings by the introduction of Woodhouses’ leading Village Cup wicket-taker this season, Ashley Prescott. The medium pace bowler took a hat-trick – at Lord’s – doing all the work himself for the second and third wickets with two caught-and-bowled dismissals.
Callum Megram (2 for 7) did a good job dismantling the Rottingdean tail, ending the innings with a wicket maiden as Rottingdean limped to 54 for 8. The match ended in bright, September sunshine with the Woodhouses flag flying proudly above the Lord’s pavillion. Below it the Woodhouses players and travelling support celebrated a polished display and deserved victory.
Neil Davidson from Persimmon, the house builders, said: “This was Persimmon’s first year sponsoring the National Village Cup and the spirit of the captains to manufacture a match out of the horrendous weather made it a special occassion. Many congratulations to Woodhouses for their victory and commiserations to Rottingdean. But seeing amateur players – the lifeblood of the sport – playing with such gusto, we know that both teams will have memories that’ll endure forever.”
Rich Abbott is a freelance cricket journalist