CRICKET: Willoughby Under 15s round off unbeaten season with tour to Norfolk

Willoughby Under 15s and Snettisham
Willoughby Under 15s and Snettisham

Two more wins in final games as juniors

Willoughby Under 15s completed a memorable season on and off-the-field when their third annual Tour took them to Norfolk.

The travelling party of players, parents, friends and club officials were based in and around Kings Lynn and Hunstanton and as well as enjoying some great hospitality and weather managed to record two victories on the field.

Friday

Snettisham v Willoughby

Snettisham 92 for 4

Willoughby 93 for 6

Willoughby won by 4 wickets

The tourists’ first engagement was at the beautiful village ground of Snettisham where the visitors completed a comfortable four-wicket success.

In fine evening sunshine and with the village church spires overlooking play all making for a picture-postcard setting, the hosts batted first and after a decent start were pegged back to set a target of 92 for 4 off their 20 overs. With all the players getting a go with the ball, wickets went to Dan Farrow, James Andrews, Sam Middlemiss and Ed Haskell.

In reply, Willoughby got off to a shaky start losing two wickets for as many runs, but Middlemiss and Archie McMillan with a quick fire 15 steadied matters. Skipper Jake Quinney arrived at the crease in mid-order and hit a boundary-ridden top score of 29 off only 13 balls to see the visitors to within sight of the target. Callum Hanks then came in and made 16 and Middlemiss closed on 19 not out as Willoughby reached their target with just over five overs to spare.

Saturday

Bircham v Willoughby

Willoughby 131 all out

Bircham 130 for 7

Willoughby won by 1 run

The team’s second game at nearby Bircham saw a nail-biting finish which the visitors won by the narrowest of margins in a fitting end to the tourists’ action.

On paper, Saturday’s 30 over 13-a-side encounter was likely to be a sterner test with the home side similar to the visitors also enjoying an unbeaten league and cup winning season in their area.

With the sun beaming down on a fast track and sloping outfield, so it proved and the early signs were not promising as batting first Willoughby were reduced to 11 for 4 with Bircham’s county opening bowler King taking three of the four dismissals.

However James Andrews and birthday boy Justin Hanks came together and averted an early trip to the beach by patiently riding out the opening storm and rebuilding the innings with a partnership of 47. 14 year old Hanks made 17 and Andrews 11 but it was one of two turning points in the game and a useful platform the visitors built on as Sam Wincott-Thomas added to with a typically-hard hitting 23 before Jake Quinney added a further 18 from 12 balls; his wicket the last to fall as Willoughby closed on 131 all out with seven balls of their innings to spare to at least give themselves something to bowl at.

Bircham got off to a steady start before Dan Farrow extracted a top edge from opener Ward into the hands of Callum Hanks to make the first breakthrough. With other opener Lahore looking steady, that brought King to the crease but his dismissal from a full-blooded catch taken by Ed Haskell in the deep off the bowling of Rees Moor was the second major turning point in the game.

One of Bircham’s other county players Wall hit a 13-ball 30 before dancing down the track once too often to be stumped as the game ebbed and flowed with the hosts chipping away at the target but Willoughby taking wickets in the process as once again the bowling was shared around.

Entering the final third of the innings, the required run rate for the hosts was just below six an over, pegged back in part by Michael Deery and Callum Hanks both producing good four over spells to keep Willoughby well in contention.

Justin Hanks then came on to bowl and after three excellent overs, it all boiled down to what was to be a dramatic last over with four runs to win or three to tie/draw. Having scampered two of those off the first ball, two Bircham wickets then fell in consecutive balls – including that of top scorer Lapping for 38 when he looked set to close the game down for the hosts – before Hanks bowled out three dot balls to see Willoughby to a win by one run; a fitting if somewhat unexpected result to the team’s final junior/youth cricket game together.

With the combination of those great games, some fabulous hospitality by the host clubs, plenty of laughs on and off-the-field and even a lads v dads football match on the sands at Hunstanton, a big thank you to all the players, parents and friends in the travelling party for their company and once again making the trip so memorable.

Tour Team: James Andrews, Michael Deery, Dan Farrow, Callum Hanks, Justin Hanks, Ed Haskell, Archie McMillan, Sam Middlemiss, Rees Moor, Abi Quinney, Jake Quinney (capt), Sam Wincott-Thomas, Luke Francis