The next stage of the ECB National Club T20 U15 Tournament saw the Richmond CC Under 15 team (winners of the Middlesex County competition) take on Esher CC U15s (the winners of the Surrey County competition) in the Regional Quarter Final in front of a large audience on Sunday 22nd at Old Deer Park.
Esher batted first and after an aggressive start including a sumptuous straight six in the first over, the quality of Richmond’s bowling attack soon delivered with Kartik Jain forcing an edge to remove one of the Esher openers with the total at 12. Richmond continued to bowl accurately and take their chances which meant that none of the accomplished Esher batsman managed to settle and wickets fell consistently to Toby Dowding (3), David Doughty and Kyle Seth (2 each), Dru Shori and Arjan Bhat. And we held all our catches – snaffled by Lucien Ashworth, David, Anosh, Dru, Kartik and keeper, Tanmay Thanawalla. Esher were all out for 104 after 18.1 overs – a brilliant morning's work by the Richmond lads adeptly steered by skipper, Dru Shori.
However – we were acutely aware of Esher’s strong bowling attack and despite a well below par total to achieve we knew this was going to be challenging – and we were right! Facing ferocious leg spin from one of Esher's county bowlers, key Richmond batsman Anosh went early and we struggled to get into our stride with no-one apart from Dru (23) and Tanmay (23) really managing to establish themselves and wickets falling relatively consistently on 17, 41, 46, 47, 72, 81, 83 and 89 Richmond were under real sustained pressure from an excellent Esher bowling and fielding performance.
In a riveting climax in front of a thoroughly entertained crowd, we needed 12 runs off 8 balls with 1 wicket in hand. With an amazing and highly accomplished flourish Keegan Hill proceeded to hit 2 perfect shots – splitting the field and both going to the boundary. In an understandable attempt to squeeze more runs he was then run out leaving 3 runs required off the last 2 balls. In comes No. 11 Toby Dowding. The Esher opener speared one at Toby's legs, the ball brushing off the pads and running down to fine leg with Toby and Kyle Seth scampering 2 runs. Last ball and all three results were possible at this stage. Last ball and as the bowler teared in – Richmond needed 1 run, Esher needed 1 wicket. A composed push into mid-wicket from Toby did the job for Richmond which was quickly followed by an impromptu pitch invasion by the Richmond lads amid scenes of joy and celebration. At the end, all the boys shook hands with each other and with the umpires who umpired and maintained order superbly in a highly competitive cricket match. The team and management (manager, Andy Dowding, and lieutenants Shan, George and Burts) now move on as Regional Champions to the next stage of this national competition which takes place in Horsham CC on Monday 30 July where the winners of Berkshire, Kent and Suffolk await.
Updated 13:28 - 14 Aug 2018 by Richard Zotov