Henshalls Premier Division Play Off Final

An enthralling Premier Division final was played out at a chilly Davenport Park home of Worfield CC, between the respective winners of the Mike Robinson and Clive Smith Premier groups Quatt CC 1st XI and Wellington CC 1st XI. Going into the game Quatt were seen as slight favourites but were short of  the injured Chris Miller and key allrounder James Ralph who has been absent for some weeks. It was deemed a crucial toss to win given the late morning start and Wellington captain Wendall Wagner had no hesitation in inserting Quatt to bat.

The departure of Ben Miller was an early blow for Craig Jones’ men, but they managed to keep the scoring rate up and had reached the relative safety of  50-3 with innings looking well set up. The introduction of Wagner (2-12) and fellow slow bowler Dan Lloyd (1-18)  then really put the brakes on the Quatt scoring and wickets began to fall regularly. At 72-7 it was looking very difficult, but captain Jones joined the much vaunted Ryan Wheldon, to rebuild the innings. Wheldon in particular played a very responsible knock, not taking any chances, and together they resurrected the Quatt innings. When he departed for an 85 ball 38, Jones took centre stage and produced a superb late flurry including 25 off the last 2 overs to shepherd his side to 153, a score that looked way off with 10 overs to go.  Wellington would have been mightily disappointed to be chasing such a score, but still fairly confident of reaching their target.

Wagner’s men started off strongly with Matt Batkin in particular looking in good form against a side employing an unusual twin slow bowling opening attack. With Gareth Jones bowling well his captain employed a highly inventive but effective strategy of switching bowlers in 1 and 2 over bursts,  and once Batkin had been freakishly stumped off the pads of keeper Biddle, who has been outstanding this year but had  a rare off day, Quatt assumed control of the game. Pace bowler Wheldon again showed why he has been touted as a future County Cricketer, by taking out the key wickets of Lloyd and Wagner, and when Ben Miller brilliantly ran out Flynn, the winners of the Mike Robinson looked in all sorts of trouble at 74-6 with overs ticking by.

Matthew Lamb was then joined by former St Georges captain Ben Byram who was perhaps surprisingly batting as low as number 8.  With only Tom Ellis to come who would be expected to contribute with the bat, the pressure was huge as not only wickets had tumbled but the run rate was creeping up. The pair set about rebuilding the innings, slowly at first but eventually the scoreboard started to tick over.

Quatt tried everything to break the partnership but Lamb and Byram stood firm and with 3 overs to go and 20 needed really stepped it up and reached the target with 9 balls remaining for an unbroken partnership of 80.

Quatt, perhaps unlucky to once again be Premier Division runners up, but for Wellington it was a first Shropshire Premier success in over 20 years and they will be keen to follow it up in 2021 when we all hope cricket can return to something like normality. All in all it was a brilliant game to close the season and credit to both sides, the officials and hosts Worfield .

Jamie Dowley - SCCL League Vice Chairman

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