17 September 2018
This was a proper final between two equally matched teams in a game that 'ebbed and flowed' untill a winner was 'found' in the last possible over of the match.
The innings' of both teams followed similar patterns. A cautious start. Loss/taking of early wicket. Bowlers on top. Partnerships trying to establish. Both around 90 runs at drinks (Sunbury 4 down, Bexley 5 down). Partnerships from the mid & lower order as runs came with some good stroke play. Bowlers struggle a bit. Then wickets in the last overs.
At the beautiful setting of Amersham CC, Sunbury won the toss and batted. That soon looked like the wrong decision as a combination of tight seam bowling resulting in pressure on the batsmen, saw three early wickets, including two of the Sunbury 'stars' ; John Maunders and Martin Andersson (39/3 after 10 overs). The change to spin maintained the pressure, with Rajan Soni and Rythm Bedi 'digging-in' for a patient 4th wicket partnership, but both were dismissed shortly after drinks. With the 6th wicket falling at 120, Sunbury's innings was on the brink of a collapse. When teams are 'skittled' it is normally a supberb performance by 1 or 2 bowlers ; one or more taking 4 or 5 wickets. Connor Fulton and Ishwarjot Singh Sohi found a way to prevent that by taking the game to Bexley with positive play (even if there were some false shots ; they all brought runs). A century partnership, which looking back was the 'winning performance'. Sunbury 242/9 (45 overs)
The start of the Bexley innings saw 11 runs off Kevin Smith's first over, and then the wicket of Matt Cross in his second over. Following which Calum Basey attempted a 'suicidal' run straight to Vishal Manro at mid-off ; direct hit run out. Re-building partnerships by George Haley, Calum MacLeod, and Matt Stiddard sort of failed as Stiddard & MacLeod (one of Bexley's 'stars') were both out just before drinks. Now the Bexley innings was 'on the brink'. By this time the prodigious leg spin of Ajit Singh Sambhi was proving difficult to score off. The Bexley reply was to 'copy' what Sunbury did. Shaun Evans and Aiden Griggs put on 52 for the 6th wicket, and then Jasdev Bassan joined Griggs, and played the agressive attacking roll, finding as the Sunbury lower order found, that the straight boundaries were shorter for the big hits. At one stage with 80 runs required off the last 10 overs and 4 wickets left, and batsman in, anything was possible. 30 off 4 overs with only 2 wickets left swung the game back to Sunbury, and it was Kevin Smith's yorker deliveries that ensured Sunbury came out on top. Bexley 230 all out (44.1 overs)
For his billigerent 50 runs and 2 wickets, Ishwarjot Singh Sohi, was awarded the 'Man-of-the-Match'.
This certainly was not one of those finals when one side is far superior on the day, or one side 'just does not turn up'. Congratulation to both teams for providing a wonderful game of cricket, played in a wonderful spirit. Sunbury knew they had been push all the way to retain The Conference Cup for the Bertie Joel Trophy.
Full scorecard here
Picture: Sunbury team with the Bertie Joel Trophy at the feet of captain John Maunders. Courtersey of Andy Clay (more via this link to his website: The Conference Cup Final 2018