Having won through the Southwest Regional play-off (see report below) and watched the summer rains wash out all attempts to stage the finals of the "Chance to Compete" national competition before schools broke up for their summer holidays, the squad had to wait until the new term started in September before they could take to the very impressive Moseley CC field to contest with the other winners from North, East & West regions, who would be crowned National Champions of the Cricket Foundation's inaugeral "Chance to Compete" eight-a-side tournament.
Kieran Richards and his squad showed great determination and coolness to win on the last ball in the final and so be crowned National 'Chance to Compete' Champions! Well done to all the players for a superb team effort.
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Setting the captain's example, Toby Hiram was the mainstay of the U14 batting throughout the whole season, scoring 383 runs at an average or 47.88. He also chipped in with his useful seam bowling, taking 13 wickets for 10 runs a-piece.
Henry Day & James Foylan put on 135 runs for the 3rd wicket against King's School Gloucester
Ieuan Lavender & Henry Day put on 102 runs for the 2nd wicket against Pates
Sam Rideout (60) & Toby Hiram (64no) put on 154 runs for the 2nd wicket against QEH
Adam Robson (92) & Matthew Cox (59no) put on 137 runs for the 2nd wicket against Hereford Cathedral School
Congratulations to the U12 "B" team for making it to the City Cup Finals!
A special note of thanks for his efforts with the squad is deserved by Mr P Lloyd, who has worked hard encouraging the boys, converting their boundless enthusiasm into decent cricketing skills, structure and awareness. Under his careful guidance and intense practice schedule, captain Jeven Dhillon and his side have been rewarded by playing themselves into the City Cup finals - especially deserving praise as all their opponents have been "A" teams. The weather though has spread its terminating influence here as well - the final against Crypt twice being washed out. It is scheduled for completion in early September when schools resume their new terms.
The rain rained long and hard – grounds waterlogged, matches abandoned, cricket for many a near washout. For once the much-maligned artificial strip came into its own, allowing us to host matches when grass pitches were unplayable mud puddles. Some matches were rescheduled and in the end only two games were lost to the weather.
Looking to build on last season’s epic performances, Matt Cox and his team started the season well with comfortable wins over Crypt (54 runs), QEH (8 wickets) and Pates (8 wickets). The ‘big one’ however was to be the 1st Round Southwest Region match of the David English U13 Schools Competition.
Drawn away against King Edwards Bath, the team had every hope of making the second round. Persistent rain and a waterlogged ground brought 3 rearranged dates for the fixture and a much interrupted preparation schedule for the team. When they did eventually set foot on the Bathampton ground, they were greeted with a very soft pitch and a deep swathe of wet, lush grass that was the outfield.
The match was reduced to 25 overs under the threat of heavy grey clouds. Fielding first, Rich’s contained the King Edwards batsmen to 65 for 5 off their first 20 overs. The overgrown outfield played its part in keeping run scoring down but it was the tight swing/seam bowling of Sam Tickle, Matt Munden and Elijah Samuel (with 1 wicket a-piece), who kept the batsmen playing and missing, and the excellent, virtually unplayable spin of Matt Cox (2-12) that did the damage. King Edwards threw caution to the wind for the last 5 overs and through some near-suicidal running and a flurry of mis-hits, bolstered their meagre total to 96 for 7.
97 to win seemed well within their grasp as Matt Cox and Elijah Samuel took guard. Progress was slow but both batsmen seemed well in control of the bowling. The long outfield however took much of the venom out of Samuel’s classic stroke play – shots that would normally have seared to the boundary yielding just singles as they slowed rapidly to a stop in the wet grass, barely half way there. Matt Cox (29) took the aerial route over the tight infield and managed to find the boundary with a six and 3 fours but with the damp pitch helping the bowlers, this was always a risky tactic.
With 10 overs remaining, the run rate had slipped out to nearly 5 an over. Attempts to force the pace of scoring however only brought about a tumble of wickets as Cox and then Robson were run out and Price and Munden holed out trying to clear the in-field. The King Edwards fielding was very sharp and although Richards and Samuel scrambled some quick singles, a couple of boundaries were needed to take off the pressure. When Samuel fell for 38 to the first ball of the final over, the writing was already on the wall and the Rich’s reply fell short by 9 runs.
In hindsight a game that should have been won was lost. The playing conditions were the same for both sides but even the umpires concluded afterwards that the long damp grass certainly did King Edwards far more favours that it did Rich’s. When fielding, King Edwards did close out the final few overs far better than Rich’s did but bottom line was the wide count – Rich’s 14 to King Edward’s 3. Enough said.
A run-fest in a drawn time game at Wycliffe restored batting confidence – the ball this time rapidly finding the boundary over more conventionally mown grass levels – Joel Price (60) and Elijah Samuel (67) sharing a third wicket stand of 88 runs in 14 overs. Two defeats followed: an under-strength side were overwhelmed by a rampant Dean Close side losing by 105 runs and Kings School’s Ollie Henson scored 109 runs in an unbroken 2nd wicket partnership as they comfortably chased down Rich’s 156 for 4 (Matt Cox 63, Joel Price 50). Not the best of preparation for the Jersey Tour!
Once on the beautiful Channel Island the sun came out and shone brightly on the teams as well as the fortunes of the U13s. Put through rigorous training and coaching sessions at FB Fields by their coach (who did not mince words over his expectations of the side), Matt Cox and his squad turned in the kind of whole team performances that met and went beyond his expectations. A full report on the Jersey Tour and the U13s’ three victories can be read elsewhere – suffice to say the U13s deserve the highest of accolades as the first team to win all three of their matches on the annual Jersey Tour – De La Salle by 7 wickets, Victoria College by 2 wickets and Jersey Island XI by 22 runs.
Back from Jersey, just one fixture remained – against Hereford Cathedral School. The boys – without Elijah Samuel this time – posted a 106 run victory, scoring 213 for 2 off of their 25 overs. Adam Robson batted all the way through the innings, giving his wicket up on the very last ball for 92. His opening partnership of 76 with Joel Price (35) was superb to watch, both batsmen running between wickets with supreme confidence and ease, as well as punishing the occasional bad ball for four. Matt Cox (59no) joined Robson at the fall of the first wicket and between them took the Hereford bowling apart, posting a partnership of 137 runs. With the exception of opening bat Grocott (70), Hereford’s batting line up looked fragile and they struggled to 107 for 8 by the close.
It was a great high on which to finish the season’s main fixture list. Although there was still the small matter of representing Gloucestershire in the ‘Chance to Compete’ Eight-a-side national competition. Without Elijah Samuel and Matt Cox in the 10-man squad (county players barred) and Adam Robson (required for Kings Sixes competition, which for the first year for a long time was washed out without a ball being bowled), Kieran Richards took over the helm of leadership. A great job he did too – backed to the hilt by his squad members. Full details of their progress can be read elsewhere – see the ‘Chance to Compete’ report.
Looking back, what has been most pleasing about this season has been the way each member of the squad has improved his own individual game, making telling contributions to the team’s progress in all forms of the game.
Last year’s run machine Elijah Samuel (402 runs in 7 innings, average at 201) did not have such a golden season; but it did not matter - the side did not have to rely on him to score the majority of its runs. Yes, he has provided a steady influence on the batting but it has been the contributions of the other top order batsmen - Kieran Richards, Matthew Cox, Joel Price and Adam Robson - that have posted the majority of the side’s runs. The bowling unit has striven manfully and skilfully to play their part in containing and pressurising opposition batsmen and ably supported by excellent fielding performances they have provided the ideal foil for the strong batting line-up.
Elijah leaves us this year to take up a scholarship at Marlborough College. We wish him well and every future success in his cricketing career, which promises to be a rosy one. The U13s will miss his presence in the side but they have proved more than capable of producing good successful cricket in their own right. I look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength in the future.
U13 Final Stats