On a sunny but cold evening the courageous young Under 11 pairs team made their way to Masham, with no knowledge of the epic match that awaited them.
Having lost the toss and being asked to bat first, our opening pair of Ben Ward and Lewis Francis marched out to the stumps with smiles abundant and confidence high. The experienced team from Masham including two County under 11 players swept confidently into the field anticipating a comfortable victory from the off.
Ward and Lewis felt different and led by example straight from the off. Against some fierce bowling they played text book shot after shot and including 3 high quality boundaries before both retiring not out with a pairs total of 24 runs to their credit, to the warmth of the visitors dressing room. What an inspiration for their team – what an amazing performance by Ben and Lewis!
Step forward the long established pairs partnership of Dawson and Carrick two seasoned campaigners for KCC. The Masham Captain had saved his County Under 11 bowlers for these two young lads hoping to get a basket of wickets, – he would be very disappointed. The may be diminutive in size but not in courage and heart. Tom and Harry faced some extremely fierce and accurate bowling and in return played some excellent front foot defence and selectively attacked every loose bowl. At the end of their 4 overs they had taken the scored board on to 240 again without the loss of wicket.
Enter then two inexperienced and developing cricketers Larson Yare and John Squires. The Masham team smelt blood and began a ferocious bowling attack against our varsity players. But they were not for turning. Bowl after bowl they dug in and refused to surrender their honour! Finally in the 11th over Larson was caught with a fantastic delivery but still the boys refused to yield and fought valiantly on to the end of their 4 overs. Enter our final pairing of Hewson and Hartley – two young players who were determined not to be bowled out. Against the returning Masham county bowlers Oli and Oscar stood firm, and would not submit their wickets or go quietly into the night. At the end of our innings we stood 242 Runs for the loss of only 1 wicket. Not a massive total but loosing only one wicket is virtually unheard off in pairs cricket. Thanks to Sam and Dillion and all our KCC coaches for the batting coaching – because all our young lads were solid.
After a quick team hug, juice and biscuits the Knaresborough warriors took to the field determined to fight for every run. I have simply never seen team spirt like it. Captain Marvel, Ben Ward set his field before taking the first over! His first bowl caught their opening batsmen wondering – and we had a scalp. Third ball and he did it again – what an amazing start to our fielding innings. Step forward Lewis Francis for the 2nd over – never one to be outshone – and booom! – 1st ball and there goes another wicket. Our fielders were inspired and fought every ball with pace and accuracy. Not a single run would we submit without a fight. Mini me – Harry Dawson came on and gave them a taste of his dazzling leg spin – they didn’t like it and failed to move the score on. Tom Carrick behind the stumps was vocal every ball and encouraged every young player to step up and be counted.
Enter our Varsity Bowlers Larsson Yare, Oscar Hartley, John Squires and Oli Hewson. John Squires snapped a great wicket with a lovely straight delivery and the stage was set. With the support of every man in the field they bowled well. Our fielding, encouragement and team spirit was immense. These young players worked so hard and encouraged each other – it was almost biblical and I was so proud of every lad on the field. Enter the final four overs and Francis and Dawson took the fight to their tail enders. With fielding changes constantly being orchestrated by Captain Marvel Ben Ward we kept the game in hand, and competitive bowl by bowl. Bowling some scary leg spin again, Dawson took another scalp and the home team were 5 wickets down and 9 runs short of our total with just one over to go.
Every person present, parents, coaches, players and bystanders could not fail to be caught up in the drama of this game. Against all odds we were still in the lead with 6 bowls to go – and frankly no one would have bet on that at a score of 242. ( Including me!) In the final over Lewis fought hard to manage the runs and on the final ball they needed one to draw or two to win.
It was heartbreaking for every KCC lad to see Masham cross the line as victors but frankly I didn’t care and the result really didn’t mater. I was so proud of every single lad from KCC, for fighting so hard, being so competitive and for caring about each other as a team. We may have lost by one run on the final ball, but I like to think we were winners in every other respect on the day!
This was quite simply the best junior cricket display by a team of young men I have ever seen. The result is frankly not important and every lad should remember this game as one of the classics of all time. This group of young men have set the bar as to what we should achieve, week in week out, in terms of enthusiasm, intensity, commitment and team spirit.
One final word for me to sum up the lads performance ………. awesome.