A northern inter-Diocesan cricket team travelled to London this week to appear in the final of a prestigious national competition for the first time.
The joint ‘CBD Team’ - made up of players from this Diocese, and the Dioceses of Carlisle and Durham – faced the Diocese of London in the final of the Church Times Cricket Cup.
Team members from Lancashire played jointly alongside colleagues from Durham and Carlisle Dioceses in the final against London Diocese and were as follows …
Rev Craig Abbott – St John’s Ellel
Rev Mark Bradford – St Cuthbert’s Fulwood
Rev Gary Bullock – Heapey St Barnabas and Withnell St Paul
Rev Paul McNally – Accrington St James with St Paul
Rev Tom Woolford – Bispham All Hallows
Rev Sam Cheesman – Bishop’s Chaplain and Curate at St Peter’s, Salesbury
Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn (pictured) also travelling south to support the side in their final push. The final is always held on the first Thursday of September at the Walker Cricket Ground in Southgate, North London.
The last game in the tournament followed a victory over the Diocese of Exeter in a semi-final match at Brewood Cricket Club in South Staffordshire back in July.
Match Report, by Rev. Tom Woolford (third from left, back row, in picture)
Although we were well in it for 25-30 overs (thanks to brilliant bowling by Accrington’s Paul McNally with support from fellow-Blackburn clergy Mark Bradford and Craig Abbot) in the last ten overs or so of their innings, London raced away to an absolutely huge total - 297/4.
So we were up against it when we came out to bat. Durham’s registrar Philip Wills opened and made his way to a solid 50, a few good runs were added by Stewart Fyfe (16) and Tom Woolford (17), and superb hitting for a rapid 64 by Paul McNally brought our total up to 187.
That's a very respectable figure which would have been enough to have won in about half of the previous finals.
It was certainly the case that our unlikely route to the final (first ever for this joint team and first final for Blackburn in 59 years) plus being rank underdogs; London’s perennial dominance in this competition, plus our enthusiastic travelling support (yells of ‘come on the north’ emanating regularly from the pavilion!) made us the neutrals’ choice!
We’d have had to have had a few strokes of luck to be in with a chance against a team featuring so many very accomplished players (a Cambridge blue, a schoolboy international, three of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, league club stalwarts); but we were on the wrong side of two or three marginal decisions.
In the end dsepite some success (some of the team are pictured celebrating a wicket) London are simply a cut above any team we’ve faced before - but we might have given London a bit of a scare had those decisions gone the other way.
We enjoyed so many brand new experiences - photographers; pitchside interviews; trophy presentations and speeches; an extremely good pitch and lightening fast outfield; ICC-certified neutral umpires and a good crowd of spectators. All in all, the sort of cricketing experience we’ve only previously seen on TV!
But we’ve got a taste for it! We’re really hopeful that the bit of profile we’ve won for clergy cricket in Lancashire and Cumbria this summer will lead to others taking up the game, strengthening our side, and building more friendships across and between the dioceses.
Official Church Times match report
In a summer of spectacular and entertaining cricket, the Church Times Cricket Cup Final on Thursday of last week lived up to expectation. One of the most dominant batting performances in years saw London snatch back the crown they lost to Bristol last year; but a valiant Carlisle/Blackburn/Durham team can be proud of their performance in defeat.
It was the first time any of those northern Dioceses had reached a final since 1965, and the very first time for Carlisle since the competition began in 1951.
London won the toss in the late morning sun at the Walker Ground, in Southgate, north London, and decided to bat first.
Alex Cama and Pat Allerton strolled out to the middle confidently, to face Craig Abbott. Abbott was originally down as 12th man, but came in to replace the absent Anderson Jeremiah.
Abbott’s opening over went for five runs, a taste of things to come, as Cama and Allerton set about rotating the strike. To begin with, it looked like Cama was the more aggressive of the pair, before Allerton began to open his shoulders.
Allerton scored a sparkling 72, including two sixes, and seven fours, before being caught by Bullock from a ball bowled by Abbott. Halfway through their innings, after 20 overs, London had laid a firm foundation of 108-1. The fielding side were surprisingly quiet under the onslaught, apart from the odd vocal protest at an umpiring decision.
However, the chants from the crowd were not in London’s favour. Olivia Fyfe, the daughter of one of CBD’s joint-captains, repeated cries of “Come on the north!” throughout the day, later taken up by others, including the Bishop of Blackburn.
After coming off the field, Allerton described CBD’s other opening bowler, Paul McNally, as the best bowler he’d ever faced in Church Times cricket.
London stuttered slightly in the middle overs, as Cama was out lbw to Bullock for 38, and Kennedy was bowled by McNally, his only wicket in a brilliant spell, to leave London 174-3 at lunch, after 29 overs.
After lunch, refuelled, London pressed down the accelerator. In their final ten overs, they scored 120 runs. Chris Lee and Jez Barnes pushed the scoring on, going at 12 an over. The blows included a giant six into the car park, hit by Lee. The ball missed the cars, but could not be found.
Lee was eventually out in the 37th over for 68, by which time the score had reached 255-4. Barnes continued where his former partner had left off, though, ending on 65, including ten fours and one six. Andy Rimmer cameoed with 16 towards the end.
The CBD’s 12th man was listed in the programme as “TBC”. It was only when Stewart Fyfe came off the field with a back injury in the 35th over, that it became apparent that the initials stood for “The Bishop of Carlisle”. Bishop Newcombe acquitted himself well at the boundary for the last 20 minutes of the London innings.
London finished with one of the highest totals seen in the final in recent years: 297-4 off their 40 overs.
In response, CBD sent out Philip Wills, Durham’s only representative in the northern team, and Steve Carter. Immediately, it was clear that chasing down the runs was going to be tricky, but Wills quickly found his rhythm.
The same could not be said for Carter, who departed for a duck, bowled by Cama, with the score 16-1. There then followed a period of intense pressure as CBD found they could not buy a run, with four maidens bowled in a row by Lee and Cama.
Bullock also found it tricky, who followed soon after for two runs, lbw to Cama. CBD’s captain, Fyfe, steadied the ship and built a partnership with Wills, who was making batting look a lot easier than his partners at the other end.
Fyfe departed for 16, caught by Joe Moffat off the bowling of Ed Kendall, just as he was looking to get going. Tom Woolford was next in, before the match broke for tea with the score 74-3, 18 overs in.
Woolford left the field soon after tea, caught by Lee off the bowling of Allerton, after an entertaining 17, with the score at 106.
Finally, CBD’s two best batsmen were at the crease together: Wills, who had passed 50, and McNally, after his bowling heroics earlier. Sadly, Wills was soon out to a marginal umpiring decision awarded to Kendall.
McNally took it upon himself to smash CBD towards their target, which was slipping away each over. His first five scoring shots were boundaries, and he went on to hit nine fours and three sixes in a stirring 62.
He was in danger of running out of partners, however, as Samuel Cheesman, Sarah Hulme, and Malcolm Stilwell all departed for low scores. The dismissal of Cheesman, similarly to that of Wills, lbw to Barnes, was heavily contested by the batting side.
McNally was eventually out to a catch taken brilliantly by Cama in the deep off the bowling of Kennedy. Mark Bradford and Abbott ensured that CBD were not embarrassed, and kept their side from being bowled out, finishing on 187-9. London none the less won comprehensively, by 110 runs.
After the match, Fyfe remained upbeat. He said that he was “very proud” of what his team had done on the day, and their perfomances in reaching the final. CBD’s co-captain, Woolford, said that London were a “class above” all the other teams that they had face in the Church Times Cup, and that they had no embarassed themselves. “This time last year we could not find 11 players, so we’re unrecognisable.”
The player of the match was Allerton, for the top score of the day, together with his parsimonious bowling, which included a wicket and a maiden.
His captain, Kennedy, said afterwards: “It was a great team performance. It was fantastic that CBD put up such a great fight.”
The trophy returns to London for the sixth time in seven years, but they weren’t without their challenges on the way, meeting Bristol and Leeds in the quarters and semis.
For Carlisle, Blackburn, and Durham, their players could return north proud of their performances. Tom Woolford wrote afterwards: “We enjoyed so many brand-new experiences — photographers; pitchside interviews; trophy presentations and speeches; an extremely good pitch and lightening fast outfield; ICC-certified neutral umpires and a good crowd of spectators. All in all, the sort of cricketing experience we’ve only previously seen on TV.
“But we’ve got a taste for it! We’re really hopeful that the bit of profile we’ve won for clergy cricket in Lancashire and Cumbria this summer will lead to others taking up the game, strengthening our side, and building more friendships across and between the dioceses.”
Church Times Cricket Cup Final 2019
London won the toss and batted
London won by 110 runs.
Alex Cama lbw. Bullock 38
Allerton c. Bullock b Abbott 72
Chris Kennedy (c) b. McNally 24
Chris Lee c. b. Woolford 68
Jez Barnes 65 not out
Andy Rimmer 16 not out
Extras: 2 byes, 9 wides, 3 no balls 14
Did not bat: Joe Moffatt (wk), William Hamilton-Box, James Knowles, Tim Rose, Ed Kendall.
FoW 108-1, 130-2, 159-3, 255-4
Bowling: Abbott 8-0-51-1, McNally 8-1-31-1, Wills 8-0-57-0, Bradford 8-0-61-0, Woolford 5-0-62-1, Bullock 3-0-37-1.
Philip Wills lbw. Kendall 63
Steve Carter (wk) b. Cama 0
Gary Bullock st. Moffat b. Cama 2
Stewart Fyfe (c) c. Moffat b. Kendall 16
Tom Woolford (c, wk) c. Lee b. Allerton 17
Paul McNally c. Cama b. Kennedy 62
Samuel Cheesman lbw. Barnes 2
Sarah Hulme b. Knowles 0
Malcolm Stilwell b. Barnes 2
Mark Bradford 8*
Craig Abbott 2*
Extras: 6 byes, 6 leg byes, 5 wides, 1 no ball 18
FoW 16-1, 25-2, 65-3, 106-4, 110-5, 123-6, 132-7, 176-8, 176-9
Bowling: Lee 6-2-29-0, Cama 8-2-18-2, Kendall 8-0-28-2, Allerton 6-1-42-1, Barnes 6-0-20-2, Knowles 3-1-21-1, Kennedy 3-0-23-1.
Ronnie Semley, September 2019