The 2011 Hilton Newcastle Gateshead Tri Nations Championship trophy stayed in the North East after an amazing come back from the NUSC students to defeat provincial champions of Ireland Ulster and regional champions of Scotland WA over five days of cricket.
The odds on a North East win looked slim after a disappointing performance in the warm up match on Monday and a horrendous batting performance on day 1 of the Tri Nations to leave the students with a woeful net run rate.
Ulster fielding a powerful squad, a quarter of which are now travelling back to compete for Ireland national sides ensured that where their batsmen struggled to post scores their bowlers just blew away sides. NUSC bundled out for 92, WA 120 in the t20 and 160 in the pro40 match to have a healthy 9 points plus a + run rate. Ben Wylie, Ross Adair, Ross McKinley and superb slower ball specialist Peter Eakin rate as perhaps the most impressive attack NUSC has faced in 2011.
Ulster were prevented from the full 12 points thanks to a rousing performance from the students in the t20s who after holding Ulster to just 120 looked in all sorts of trouble at 2-29 in the 10th. However, an innings described by Ulster’s coaches as “superb” from NUSC Kookaburra Player of the Championship Owen Lancaster 75* and a gem of an innings from Australian William Bosisto 32* helped the students ease home with 8 balls left to make up a small element of the run rate damage. A 14 run win over WA in the second t20 thanks in part to a quick fire 31* from Thomas Cosford ensured the students were alive and kicking for Friday but would need a winning margin almost double what any other team had managed.
Unfortunately, for WA and Ulster two key elements in that challenge came together. Hartlepool’s groundsman unveiled a gleaming new wicket from under the covers which rates as the finest seen in 2011 and an innings by Aaron Proud which may just never be beaten.
Captain Michael Osborn winning a toss signalled an all out batting assault on WA to try to make up the net run rate deficit. Proud promoted back to the top of the order along with the recalled Daniel Young set about the task in perfect fashion picking up 48 in the opening powerplay until Young was unlucky to be adjudged LBW. To keep up with the run rate required it was continually noted the number of NUSC batsmen padded up as all kinds of game plans were kept ready as Proud a “pinch hitter” would never last long enough to get us up to the 250+ target score.
How wrong that proved as Proud turned all his considerable potential into a sensational 165* (122) batting the whole 40 overs including 16 fours and 2 sixes. WA were ruthlessly run around the ground in the glorious sun by his partner Bokang Mosena who signed off with 66(72) while a quick fire 19*(9) from Tom Cosford got the students to 3-296 to give them some breathing space in the second innings to make the net run rate needed.
Credit to WA for the considerable efforts in the field as the wicket was truly a batting paradise, it was a warm day and after a long week some of their senior seam bowlers were looking tired. Spinners Hulatt 1-40 and WA’s Kookaburra Player of the Championship Young 0-49 can take great credit from their spells while their sportsmanship in clapping Proud’s efforts and giving him a rousing send off deserve considerable mention.
In reply, the students again came hard seeking early wickets with Mosena again the star with the ball taking 1-6 including Barber before a run was on the board. Bailey (1-23) and Watson (1-33) maintained the wickets but at a much higher scoring rate as WA tried to fight back before the NUSC spin team took over to ensure the title.
Higgins 3-21, Cosford 2-21, Ebdale 0-3 and Lancaster 1-6 sucked the life out of the WA team to ensure a 183 run victory which proved comfortably enough to leapfrog Ulster on net run rate. Innings of note for WA came from Young 28(35) out in slightly bizarre circumstances the ball before drinks and English 20(21) but they will be disappointed not to have made more on such a flat wicket if placed under considerable pressure by the huge target.
So the 2011 season closes for NUSC with four Hilton Newcastle Gateshead trophies in the cabinet. The ‘County Challenge’ retained against Nottinghamshire, ‘Cricket Championship’ regained from Leinster, the ‘International Series’ retained against Scotland U19s and the ‘Tri Nations’ won against the odds.
The saying “it is not how but how many” perhaps sums up a superb season. All four trophies in the cabinet is all anyone can ask for....while the performances have varied along the way, the sense of fun, togetherness and a team of talented cricketers on show has not so congratulations to all those involved in the 2011 SMP programme.
We must end with our open thanks to all those involved in making the WTP 2011 and SMP 2011 programmes possible. There has been an incredible amount of help given, some seen and a lot unseen behind the scenes. It would take more than one press release to name everyone but rest assured we appreciate it and that as one year ends another is starting where there are already a few “surprises” ready to be announced.
Watch this space.