Davidstow National Village Cup final: Rockhampton (192-7) lost to Cleator (193-9) by one wicket
ROCKHAMPTON came agonisingly close to winning the Davidstow Village Cup, going down by just one wicket defeat to Cleator in a thrilling final at Lord's.
The Rams appeared on course to become the first side from Gloucestershire to win the competition when Will Cartlidge took four wickets in a devastating opening spell that reduced the Cumbrian side to 64-5 when defending their total of 192-7.
However, Cleator refused to give up in a game full of twists and turns with Ian Clark's 37 setting up a nail-biting finish before the last pair put on 15 to see them home with just nine balls to spare.
Rockhampton captain James Williams led from the front with a sparkling 57 off 37 balls and was well supported by Matt Tyler, who scored 50 in a second wicket stand of 84, but they lost their way slightly after being in a dominant position of 129-1 off 25 overs as Cleator clawed their way back in the game.
And ultimately the difference between the sides was the last 15 overs of each innings with Cleator on 106-6 off 24 overs during their chase when rain caused the players to go off for 50 minutes.
Clark raised their hopes of an unlikely victory, hitting two sixes in one James Hancox over to leave them needing 50 off ten overs.
The introduction of Sam Nichols seemed to do the trick as Clark smashed the ball towards the point boundary and Jack Spence took a difficult chance, and when Graeme Lilly (11) gave him a return catch from a full toss in the 35th over, Cleator were still 35 runs short of their target.
Hancox was brought back into the attack and swept for six by David Blackwell (13) but he struck his pads in front of the stumps on the next delivery and the umpire raised his finger, leaving the last pair needing 15 to win off three overs.
However, some intelligent batting from David Bell and David Rooney saw them take nine off the next over by Guy Brothwood.
Bell (16*) picked up a single off Hancox before Rooney (10*) swiped a full toss to the backward point boundary to tie the scores, and the next ball glanced down to fine leg off his pads, allowing them to pick up a single leg bye to secure victory.
Despite the late heartache, it was still a magical day for the village of Rockhampton and although the Home of Cricket was sparsely populated, the 2,000-plus crowd managed to create a superb atmosphere.
The supporters who made the trip from Gloucestershire were magnificent throughout, cheering Rockhampton on from the moment brothers Will and Matt Tyler walked down the famous pavilion steps to open the batting after Cleator had put them in.
They found runs hard to come by early on with opening bowlers Blackwell and Darren Clark beating the bat on occasions, although the umpires gave them the benefit of doubt on some borderline wides.
As the pressure built with just eight runs scored off the first five overs, Will Tyler went for a quick single and a direct hit from Tom Sharpe running in from mid-wicket would have brought Matt Tyler's innings to an end.
Will Tyler hit the first boundary with a fine on-drive for four off Blackwell in the next over to ease the nerves and suddenly the runs started to flow as Rockhampton reached 37-0 by the tenth over.
The first six came in the 12th over when Will Tyler hit Clark over extra cover, but he was out for 19 just three balls later when he mistimed his back-foot shot and skied it to Chris Quin, who took the catch at gully.
Matt Tyler rode his luck, being dropped behind on 23 and again at slip on 24, as tight spells by Rooney and Bell slowed the run rate.
However, Williams hit four fours off the 19th over by Rooney to swing the momentum again and, after Matt Tyler launched Bell for six into the crowd, Rockhampton were well placed at 85-1 at the halfway stage.
Williams continued his onslaught after the drinks break and took 16 off an over by Ian Clark, bringing up his half-century off just 29 balls with a beautiful late cut.
However, his wonderful innings came to an end when he came down the wicket to Bell and misjudged the flight of the ball to be bowled to spark a mini-collapse.
Matt Tyler also fell soon after reaching 50 in the next over when he got a leading edge off Rooney (1-28) and to give a simple catch to Ian Clark at mid-off and Brothwood (2) became the third wicket in as many overs when he was trapped lbw by Bell (2-32).
Rockhampton stuttered to 144-4 off 33 overs when a heavy shower saw the umpires take the players off the pitch for just over 15 minutes and if anything the break helped the Rams, with Simon Hore and Rowan Cartlidge accumulating runs at a quicker rate when play resumed.
Hore made 14 before he was bowled when giving Blackwell the charge and Cartlidge (23) fell in similar fashion when he was deceived by Ian Clark's slower ball.
Spence (5) was run out at the non-striker's end when Will Cartlidge hit the ball down to long-off and attempted a second run, but the latter's ten not out helped the Rams reach 192-7.
Cleator opening batsman James Rogers hit successive boundaries off Rowan Cartlidge's first over but the seamer came back well, using the slope to his advantage to clip the top of Quin's (2) off-stump when the batsman left the ball.
Cleator danger-man Darren Clark looked in fine form as he quickly moved to 11 but, just as he did in the semi-final when he removed Dinton key batsman Mike Sutcliffe, Cartlidge got the ball to move back and trap the batsman lbw.
Left-hander Robert Mason (3) found Cartlidge virtually unplayable. Coming around the wicket to angle the ball in with the seam and slope then taking it away, Cartlidge eventually found the edge with his brother Rowan taking the catch.
Nichols bowled a tight spell at the other end and was rewarded when Sharpe (2) chopped the ball onto his own stumps and in the next over Rogers (35), who had decided to take the attack to Cartlidge (4-35), eventually paid the price for playing across the line when the ball hit his off-stump.
Scott Kiggins looked to make the most of being dropped by Williams at extra cover on five as he launched a counter-attack before being beaten by the flight and bowled by Brothwood for 26, just before the players came off due to rain.
Most inside the ground expected Rockhampton to wrap up victory when play resumed but Cleator read a different script.