It's a knockout finale to the Saint's season
FORRES St Lawrence capped their season by lifting the Blake Geoservices Knockout Trophy in a thrilling match at Gordonstoun against Fochabers.
The final was postponed from the week before due to the weather and although it eventually went ahead the ground was wet with the track itself, hard and dry.
Fochabers elected to bat first with Aditya Mehta and Chris Woodward taking the field for the Speysiders whilst Forres opened their attack with Matty Hewson and Gus Farr. Giving Mehta a sighter with his first ball, Hewson scorched one past the edge with his second and the batsman could only edge it through to Roberts behind the sticks for a duck. The perfect start for Forres got better when number three Colin Sanders chopped a Farr delivery onto his stumps in the second over and Fochabers were 7 for 2.
Then Woodward could only watch as Chris Priddle, at four, hit the ball onto his pads, the ball ricochet off and was caught by Steve Ryder at short cover. The umpire did not give it out but Priddle walked and the Forres fielders clapped Priddle off for his sportsmanship, especially Hewson who had bagged another wicket.
Fochabers were stunned by these opening overs but they still had batting to come, with Hemant Mandal arriving at five. Woodward took a boundary off Farr and then loose deliveries cost another boundary plus a six as the opener settled in but then another batting disaster for Fochabers when Mandal tried to take on Hewson but ended up swiping the ball to Durance at mid off, leaving Fochabers on 30 for 4.
The long batting line up of Fochabers had to pay off to keep them in the game so Mark Stockwell needed to dig in and work with Woodward at building a score to challenge the Forres batsmen. Both big men, they struck the ball cleanly but took the singles, working the ball around the field and the score had moved to 61 when the change of bowler brought the next wicket for Forres as Durance bowled Woodward around his legs for 35.
Now Fochabers had their last throw of the dice with Dan Davidson coming to the crease. More loose bowling from Forres and the momentum swung firmly in Fochabers favour with Davidson finding the boundary with a string of fours and Stockwell helping himself to a couple of sixes as Forres rang the changes.
The century was passed in the 21st over as the batsmen pressed on and they were just shy of the 150 mark when Stockwell took on the returning Gus Farr, went for a big shot and was bowled for 42. A good innings, just when his team needed it but just one over later Davidson mis-timed a shot to Al Farr off Neil McGrath’s bowling and he too was on his way for 37.
Liz Priddle played with great energy, including a four off McGrath but with only a couple of overs it was simply a case of adding whatever the tail could. At the end of the 30 overs Fochabers had amassed 167, quite an effort after their terrible start, but it illustrated the depth of batting they have. Matty Hewson finished with 3 for 20 off his allotted six overs.
The Forres reply opened with Pal Dhami and Steve Ryder facing Arnav Mehta and Dan Davidson. A good start for the Forres batsmen as Mehta struggled with no-balls and Davidson went for nine off his opening over but he bounced right back in his next over when he removed Dhami as he nicked the ball behind for 12.
Then to make matters worse, Nigel Gerrard was bowled first ball leaving Forres on 25 for 2 in the fourth over. Neil McGrath was sent it and he got off to a bright start taking two boundaries off Davidson whilst Ryder kept it simple and struck the bad ball. But Davidson pressed on and after several shouts was eventually successful with an LBW appeal and McGrath was on his way for 14.
Gus Farr now partnered Ryder as the half century came up. An important passage of play as the Forres batsmen built the score and the balance swung towards Forres. The pressure told as the Fochabers bowling became sloppy, giving away extras and Forres headed past the hundred but then Farr holed out to Aditya Mehta on the long off boundary off the bowling of Priddle for 17 and suddenly the 60 runs still needed seemed a long way off.
Derek Ross was bowled by Stockwell for 1 and when Al Farr was bowled in the same way just a few balls later Forres were a long way off the required total. But just as Farr was leaving the field the umpires conferred: the bowler had apologised for bowling a rank delivery just before the ball went on to hit the wickets and it was judged that the batsman had been unfairly distracted by this so should be called back to the crease. Farr couldn’t believe his luck and back he came. This time he was going to make it count and his next two scoring shots went for six and four. Suddenly he had his eye in and he was going to ride his luck.
The next over from Stockwell went for ten and more came when Farr took a boundary from Davidson as Forres moved rapidly towards the 150 mark, but before Forres got to that point they lost Ryder who was bowled by the ever pressing Davidson. Ryder’s 51 had been well paced and provided the backbone for the Forres innings. Steve Barron came with the score on 145 in the 25th over and could only stand and watch as Farr unleashed another onslaught, this time on Mehta who went for 22 in his last over, including two sixes and a four.
As the over ended the scores were level and Barron had only to take one run to win the game but Fochabers obliged by bowling a wide, gifting the game to Forres. Farr finished on 39 not out off 19 deliveries. Davidson was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 34.
The game swung to and fro, both sides pulled out the stops to win the match and in the end Forres ran out winners. There were some good individual performances, Steve Ryder was given the Man of the Match award, but both sides played well and provided an entertaining game which proved a fitting end to the season.