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Forers snatch trophy win from jaws of defeat

By SPP Reporter

IT WAS a weekend of mixed cricketing fortunes for Forres St Lawrence, with an away trip to Highland in Inverness on Saturday and the finals of the T20 competition in Nairn on Sunday.

Forres St Lawrence Cricket Club claimed the 2014 T20 Cup
Forres St Lawrence Cricket Club claimed the 2014 T20 Cup

The league match on Saturday started in damp conditions with the promise of more rain to come.

Asked to bat first, Forres opened with Pal Dhami and Nigel Gerrard against the exciting attacking bowling of Kaey Clement and the more sedate John Crabtree. Dhami used his own skills to deal with the pace as eight runs came off the first over and Gerrard joined in with two attacking boundaries in the third over. Eventually the bowling found its line and length and Highland managed to claw the run rate back with 35 coming off the first 10 overs.

Rory Cameron was brought on to bowl and the rate pushed upwards again as Dhami pushed forwards. The batsmen were looking comfortable until Dhami missed a fuller delivery from Cameron and was trapped LBW for 58. With 81 on the board the new batsman Fraser Merricks had a nice cushion behind him, but his quick removal by Clemont for 1 and then Gerrard falling victim to Cameron for 24 put the pressure back on to Forres. Gus Farr and Neil McGrath came together on 96, but McGrath could only add 13 to the score before he too fell to the bowling of Clemont. Steve Barron now partnered Farr, and they steadied things at the crease, developing the innings to a potentially match winning position. 150 came up in the 38th over but still the Forres pair pressed on. The end came when Barron was run out for 36, going for the second run. Farr eventually went too when he was bowled by Murali for 51, and the innings closed soon afterwards on 205 for 7.

The second innings opened with Euan Smith and John Crabtree facing Fraser Merricks and Gus Farr. The weather was closing in and it seemed only a matter of time before the rain would become too heavy to continue.

Farr removed Crabtree with a great catch by Merricks at point for 12, followed soon afterwards by Varun, who was well caught by Dhami at mid on with an over the shoulder effort. Clement never looked comfortable against Merricks and picked up only five runs before the bowler got his man. The run out of Murali for 9 left openers Smith and Regan at the crease as the wet weather finally closed in. After waiting around to see if the weather would improve, the game was abandoned with Highland on 50 for 4. Forres took 12 points from the match.

Sunday dawned bright clear as Forres arrived at Nairn for their 10am match against Highland in the T20.

The Inverness side batted first, opening with Graham Watson and Kaey Clemont, two big men who look as if they can hit a ball, but with only 14 on the board in the fourth over Clemont was caught by McGrath at gully off Gus Farr for a duck. Euan Smith was the new batsman, and there followed a number of low-scoring overs as the score gently moved upwards to 26. The Highland players in the pavilion were getting restless and felt the score should be moving faster. Feeling this pressure, Watson hit out and middled the ball straight to Durance at mid on off Barron’s bowling for 11. Then, next ball, Varun was caught behind by Roberts and Highland were three down for 26.

Smith pottered along with little haste, losing a couple of batsmen on the way. The only other contribution of note came from Murali, who struck an adventurous 31, but the Highland innings closed on 91 off its 20 overs, Farr, Barron and Dhami taking three wickets apiece.

In reply, Dhami and Gerrard batted straight through, taking only 16 overs to reach the total. Neither batsman looked troubled and went about their business calmly. When the line was crossed, Dhami had 58 and Gerrard 13 with extras racking up 21.

Highland then went on to play Fochabers, which provided a straightforward win for the Speysiders. So this left the final game of Forres v Fochabers.

Forres batted first and got off to a poor start as Dhami was bowled in the second over by Davidson, followed soon afterwards by Gus Farr. This left Fraser Merricks and Derek Ross to steady things, but in T20 there is little time for this, and as the 30 ticked over on the scoreboard, Merricks felt the pressure and holed out off the slow bowling of Mandal for 9. With nearly half the overs gone and only 31 runs on the board, Steve Barron took the game by the throat. He struck out, short and sharp, with a quick scoring burst, but it gave Forres the forward motion needed to get the innings going. Barron was caught and bowled by Mandal for 13 with the score on 46. Neil McGrath now came to the crease and he tried to heave the ball across the boundary, but the ball just wouldn’t go. Singles had to be turned into twos as the batsmen strove to put up a total for the bowlers to work on.

When McGrath fell for 17 Al Farr stepped up and joined Ross for a 20-run partnership before Ross was bowled by the returning Davidson for the top score of 24, very valuable runs indeed. The Forres innings closed on 99 for 7 at the end of the 20 overs.

Not a very challenging total and not helped when Fraser Merricks had a nightmare, giving away 26 runs off his first two overs, but he did take the wicket of Mandal when he was LBW second ball of the innings. Farr removed Adi Mehta next over for just 3, bringing Milind Mehta and Adam Stockwell to the crease. Steve Barron and Pal Dhami bowled eight very tight overs, with the bonus of Stockwell’s wicket for Dhami, an excellent catch behind by Ian Roberts. But the scoreboard pressure was on Forres as Fochabers were 41 for 3 in only the sixth over. Fourteen overs to score 59 runs looked a certainty for Fochabers.

Forres fought tooth and nail, working their plans and keeping runs to a minimum, and when Steve Shorten and Milind Mehta were removed within one run of each other the pressure was right back on Fochabers. An excellent spell of bowling by David Durance under real pressure brought him wickets and brought Forres closer to an unlikely victory.

The Fochabers batsmen buckled under the pressure and gifted wickets, leaving the final two overs to be batted out by two youngsters. The Fochabers innings closed on 96 for 9, with Durance claiming four wickets.

This trophy win really had been snatched from the jaws of defeat, an exciting example of team play which it is hoped Forres will take with them for the rest of the season.

Forres are at home on Saturday when Fort William will be the visitors.

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