Report submitted by Worcestershire County League

On a fine, blustery and chilly afternoon the culmination of the five main Worcestershire County League Regional Competitions took place across the county on Saturday.   

WCL Super 40 Cup Competition (for Premier & Division One Teams)

In the Cup Competition Final Pershore 1st XI won the toss against fellow finalists Stourport-on-Severn 1st XI and had no hesitation in deciding to bat first on what looked like a shirt front at Chester Road Sports Club.

After the early loss of opener Paddy Thompson, Chris joined brother Liam Ridings at the crease and immediately both set about building a solid base with some excellent stroke play and shot selection which saw both brothers post their half centuries at around the halfway point of the innings.

However, with the score on 141, with plenty overs remaining and the end of innings score looking like it may reach the three hundred mark Liam Ridings holed out at deep mid-off.

This dismissal gave Stourport a lift which they took advantage of as the next ten overs saw them control the scoring rate and get themselves back into the game. Only a late flurry from Charlie Norton (51 off 26 balls) who with the help of Captain Chris Ridings (102*) who scored an undefeated century helped Pershore post a challenging target of 278 for victory.   

In the second innings, after the loss of an early wicket Ted Bayliss joined opener Charlie Foley at the crease and the two immediately started to punish the loose delivery to give the visitors a quick fire start which began to reverse the pressure on to their opponents.

However, with the score at 88, the introduction of slow bowler Paddy Thompson changed the course of the match significantly as he almost immediately bowled the ominous looking Bayliss who had scored at more than a run a ball and the very next ball dismissed Captain Andrew Siwicki in the same way to send a shock wave through the Stourport innings.

The West Worcestershire men then began to rebuild the innings largely thanks to some fine batting from opener Charlie Foley who proved the dominant partner in a sixty two run partnership with George Hatfield for the fifth wicket but it was Thompson again who proved decisive as at the end of his spell he firstly dismissed Hatfield and then followed with the big wicket of Foley (99) who fell agonisingly one short of a deserved century with just over 100 runs required for victory and the run rate around the 10 per over mark.

Although a late flurry from Matt Hatfield and Andrew Siwicki gave Stourport hope, the damage caused by Thompson in the middle of the innings proved too much to comeback from and Pershore eventually ran out deserved winners by a twenty run margin.

In the Trophy Competition Final Kidderminster 2nd XI won the toss and chose to bat first on a placid looking surface at Cherry Hill Road.

In form Sam Beadsworth who scored an undefeated century in last weeks semi-final win against Halesowen 2nd XI helped Kidderminster get off to a solid start by posting a run a ball half century, an innings that laid the foundations for a superb late innings onslaught from Captain James Williams (70*) and Chris Pyke (91*) who both finished the innings undefeated to ensure the Chester Road outfit posted a formidable target (263-2) for opponents Barnards Green 2nd XI to chase.

The Kidderminster 2nd XI opening attack of Sam Wright and Gomez Vincent then started excellently as 16-year-old Wright achieved the early breakthrough in the first over by dismissing opposing Captain Andy Wheeler.

The pair then continued bowling well to restrict the flow of runs in the power play which helped to increase the already challenging run rate to a level which meant any new opposition batsman was immediately under pressure to score quickly from the outset.

This constant building of pressure throughout the second innings led to a constant stream of wickets throughout the as the run rate continued to increase. Only opener Rehan Edavalath (100) made a telling second innings contribution for the Green but even he had faced 130 balls before being dismissed by the impressive Sam Wright in the penultimate over the game and by then the match was well and truly over as the asking rate had been allowed to climb beyond comprehension as the Kidderminster 2nd XI cruised home by thirty-nine runs.   

Netherton 2nd XI won the toss against Bromsgrove 3rd XI in the Vase Competitions Final and decided to bat first on an excellent looking surface at Seth Somers Park.

Arslan Iqbal (110) then continued to smash the ball to all parts against some inconsistent Bromsgrove bowling to the point where a first innings core of 300+ looked inevitable. However, some excellent bowing from Tom Downing, James Bayliss and Matt Banham in the middle of the first innings saw eight wickets fall which helped pull back the final first innings total to a par (218 ao).

In the second innings, after Bromsgrove had lost an early wicket Bromsgrove Tom Downing and number 3 batsman Mark Bilbrough steadied the ship with a forty-nine run partnership which gave the East Worcestershire men a solid base to launch their attack from.

However, with just over 120 runs left to win at about a run a ball seamer Ibrar Hussain took three quick wickets for just seven runs which changed the momentum of the innings.

Firstly’ Downing was bowled by Hussain, then Paul Hutchins missed a straight full toss the very next ball keeper/batsman David Collins was dismissed by a useful yorker.

However, with Bilbrough still undefeated Bromsgrove still had a realistic chance, but only two overs later with his score on (41) Bilbrough played one stroke too many and holed out at mid-on off the bowling of Zohed Tariq which put Netherton 2nd XI firmly back in the driving seat with around 17 overs remaining. The next seven or so overs saw a further three wickets fall which left around 80 runs to win off the last ten overs with number 9 Oliver Holden and number 10 James Bayliss at the crease.

The two then slowly started to build again and at one stage threatened the first innings total as Bayliss struck 3 maximums and another boundary in his (43*) but the pair ran out of overs to end just nine runs short of the Netherton 2nd XI first innings total.  

In the Shield Competition final played at Ombersley Cricket Club Burghill, Tillington & Weobley 2nd XI won the toss and inserted Barnt Green 3rd XI. The decision looked a good one as two early wickets fell to the opening Burghill new ball assault but some steady middle order batting from Elliot Evans and Michael Hare (53)helped a youthful Barnt Green 3rd XI side post what looked like a challenging first innings target of 191-7 after 40 overs.

However, experience told in the end as Burghill learned from the first innings and set there stall out for the long haul, ensuring wickets were hard to come.

Without anyone really dominating Burghill's experienced line up played solidly throughout the innings and eventually scored the winning runs in the final over of the game for the loss of five wickets to gain the win against a spirited and youthful Barnt Green attack.

In the Plate competition final, the powerful Evesham 1st XI batting line up proved too strong for a young and inexperienced Ombersley 3rd XI at Himley Cricket Club.

Ombersley won the toss and decided to insert the opposition on what is generally an excellent batting surface at Himley Cricket Club. After a circumspect start and the loss of an early wicket Muhammad Tahir Mirza (100) decided that attack was the best form of defence as he set about the youthful attack to record a century off just 90 balls, an innings which laid the foundations for a late innings onslaught which saw 70 runs come in the final 6 overs of the first innings which in turn ensured the South Worcestershire based outfit posted a formidable first innings total (266-8) which, after a poor start proved far too many for a youthful and energetic Ombersley 3rd XI to chase as they were eventually dismissed in the second innings for 141, 125 runs short of their unlikely target.

Finals Day concluded what has been an unusual and different season in the Worcestershire County League. At one stage during the lockdown period thoughts were that competitive cricket looked along, long way away and that we would be very fortunate to play any meaningful cricket at all.

However, with a sensible change of heart by the Government and a set of conditions and directives agreed to be adhered to for best practice against the Covid-19 virus the ECB announced that competitive inter club cricket had been given the green light. After some quick consultation and swift organisation, we were then able to plan and enjoy the cricket that we have played at the back end of the season.

The Management Committee of the Worcestershire County League would like to say a huge thank you to the high volume of clubs and players that decided to play through the pandemic using the correct and proper Covid-19 procedures throughout. The Committee also sends its thanks to our Panel Umpires who again chose to move forward with us and policed our matches to their usual high standards. A special thank you at this time must also go to our member club Groundsmen and ground-staff who have again worked tirelessly to ensure we were in a position to start when we and finally, to all of our Finals Day Host Venues (and in particular their Groundsman and helpers), all of whom went above and beyond the requirement to assist and provided the best surfaces possible for each match to be played on. thanks for your efforts too in what has proved to be an excellent and enjoyable season for all in very difficult, different and trying conditions.

Congratulations to our winners, commiserations to the runners-up, and more importantly congratulations to our wide cricketing family on a job well done by all. Nearly 700 matches across the county with over 2500 cricketers taking part is not such a bad achievement at all after the situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of the season.

Thank you again to you all, we very much look forward to working with all of our member clubs again shortly where we hope to return to a more ‘usual’ and ‘common’ cricketing environment for the 2021 season.