Monday 3 December 2007 

ECB Cockspur Cup 2007: Quarter & Semi-Finals

St Just (236 for 6) beat Henley (234 for 7) by 4 wickets
Hastings & St Leonard’s Priory (218 for 3) beat Linden Park (215 for 9) by 7 wickets
Bromley (189 for 3) beat Cambridge Granta (186 all out) by 7 wickets
Havant (108 for 1) beat Andover (106 all out) by 9 wickets

St Just arrived in their Reading hotel in the small hours of the morning and a number of the players will not have relished fielding first in the sun after such an exhausting journey.

Henley built a solid base for their innings around Mike Roberts’ 66. Vital impetus was added to the innings by Adrian Gravenstein who hit 51 off 40 balls before perishing to one attacking shot too many. At this stage the match appeared to be drifting away from the visitors but they were able eventually to restrict Henley to 234 for seven.

St Just made a solid start to their reply with Neil Curnow (64) and David Roberts (43) adding 80 for the first wicket. After 25 overs they were handily placed on 111 for one.

Under the pressure of the run chase wickets began to fall regularly and with seven overs left St Just needed to score at nine an over. At this stage a Cornish hero stepped forward in the shape of wicketkeeper Gavin Edwards, who smote a lusty 49 off 33 balls to guide St Just home by four wickets with four balls to spare.

Having reached the semi-final last year at their first time in this competition St Just are now looking forward to hosting Bromley, the Kent League champions for the right to play at Lord’s.

Added spice to this match is that it is a repeat of last year’s semi-final when St Just had to travel to Kent two weeks running in order to play the match – this time around they have home advantage and can look forward to a few extra hours in their own beds prior to playing the biggest ever club match on their ground.

After some heroic efforts by club officials to get the seventh round match between Henley and Totton & Eling underway, the fixture was marked by ill-feeling culminating in an unsavoury war of words as Henley posted a five-wicket win to progress through to the next stage of the 2007 Cockspur Cup.

Henley's ground at Matson Drive was mainly under water after the River Thames flooded so the tie was switched to Burnham but torrential rain during the night before the game had caused problems after water seeped under the covers to affect one end.

The match went ahead in glorious sunshine and a large, vocal crowd enjoyed the early action. Henley won the toss and invited their visitors to bat first making full use of the bowler friendly conditions, which immediately put the Totton batsmen on the back foot.

The dismissal of opener Lee Savident for just seven came as a major blow but Totton & Eling patiently built an innings around Damian Shirazi who displayed his undoubted class with some fine shot selection and execution in a well paced innings.

But just as he began to accelerate at the end of the innings, trying to hit a six in the last over on his way to a century, he was dismissed for 92 and made his way to the pavilion to tumultuous applause from his team and supporters. The Henley team went into a huddle and made no attempt to acknowledge his efforts, marking the start of the hostilities.

With a straight four struck off the last ball of the innings Totton closed on 173-8, a modest total reflecting an efficient performance from Henley's fielders and an accurate one from their bowlers.

Henley’s reply started in sensational fashion with two early wickets falling in quick succession, leaving them in trouble at 4-2. The arrival of Jono McLean to the crease ushered in a period of steady rebuilding which saw Henley gradually build to a position of strength.

A sharp stumping by Nigel Bungay looked to have brought Totton back into the game but McLean kept his head to get Henley back on track at 133-4 in 37 overs before he was eventually caught on the square leg boundary for 66.

After 40 overs the score stood at 144-5 with the match in the balance but a wayward over from Savident left Henley with an easy target of 12 from the last three overs. A six straight back over the bowlers head put them in sight of victory and another over square-leg took them across the finish line though celebrations were tainted by further exchanges.

Elsewhere West Indian Cavaliers moved their tie to Lytham to play on their opponents ground as they made a third attempt to get the match completed.

Bromley had another close shave as they edged through against Stanmore by eight runs, successfully defending a total of 182-7.

The one quarter-final match to be played on the scheduled date saw Kibworth visit Kidderminster Victoria.
Kibworth managed 217 and with Kidderminster cruising at 172-1, the match seemed to be well out of reach of the visitors but a clatter of wickets, brought on by some excellent bowling supported by keen fielding transformed the game and Kibworth, the 2004 champions, squeezed through by five runs after a remarkable match.

Bromley on the other hand are looking into the logistics of playing at St Lawrence & Highland Court in Canterbury on the Saturday and then in deepest Cornwall on the Sunday.