Banbridge Academy u13 cricket team produced a strong performance to defeat Methodist College in the final of the NCU U13 competition, the ‘Mourne Cup.
Both teams have had a successful season, with Methody defeating Wallace HS in their semi-final, while the Academy boys defeated Sullivan Upper in Holywood.
In the final, played in beautiful conditions at Donaghcloney Cricket Club, Methody chose to bat first, and on a wicket that appeared to suit the batters, started strongly.
A second wicket partnership of 85 between T Millar and T Hopkins allowed the visitors to build a reasonable score of 131 for two off 25 overs, a total that in many U13 matches would be a winning score.
Over the 25 overs, the Academy used six different bowlers, testament to the strength in depth within the side and while the best figures of 1-20 go to opening bowler Harry Lockhart, he was ably supported by Ross Cockcroft 1-22 and Jack Carson 1-16.
The balance of the overs was split between Josh Best, Jonathan Warren and Philip Campbell, three boys who all maintained a good line and length, making the MCB batters work for all the runs they scored.
In the field, the remainder of the Banbridge team deserve credit. On the day and throughout the earlier rounds, many of the wins were built on an all-round team performance in the field.
Chasing a total of 131, the home team started nervously, a situation made worse when opening bat Harry Lockhart was run out for zero without facing a ball.
Under this increased pressure, Andrew Denver came to the crease, and along with Jack Carson he managed to build a match-winning total over the next 20 overs, with a second wicket partnership of 103 that was to prove crucial.
Jack Carson batted with a great deal of maturity and skill throughout his 20 overs at the crease, finishing with a total of 69 before falling to an LBW decision as he pushed to close the win.
This batting performance was the corner stone for the team’s win, but it was by no means the only performance of note. At the other end Andrew Denver displayed great timing and strength as he hit a super 34 before being caught in the 20th over.
As the Academy pushed for the final 12 runs, the nerves of the young team began to show as the scoring rate slowed. Ross Cockcroft added a single to the total before he fell, bringing Josh Best and Philip Campbell to the crease to complete the win. Both players added to the total before, in the 21st over, Josh Best hit a strong drive back past the bowler for a four and the win.
In front of the small pavillion at the ‘Factory Ground, Murray Power, Chairman of the NCU Schools’ Committee made the presentation of medals and trophies to the two teams and congratulated all the young players on an excellent day’s cricket.
Throughout this competition, the Academy boys have put in a series of excellent performances with the bat, the ball and in the field. In the last three games, captain Carson has scored a total of 220 runs while only giving up his wicket once. This foundation allowed Andrew Denver to score a couple of 30s while Harry Lockhart also contributed significantly with several 25+ scores.
With the ball, Harry has proved unplayable for many U13 players, with his swing taking many valuable wickets. The spin of Josh Best and Jack Carson has also proved too much for several players, while a consistent line has been enough for Ross Cockcroft, Philip Campbell and Jonathan Warren to take their fair share of wickets.
In the field, the entire team are always lively, sharp and committed - a major factor in limiting the totals achieved by opposition. In this respect, the performance against RBAI deserves mention, when they took nine wickets in the field, with seven catches, one run out and a stumping.
Special thanks must go to Donaghcloney Cricket Club for making their ground available to the schools for this match. Young players rarely get a chance to play on a grass wicket, and this along with the setting made for a very special day for all the players.
Thanks also to Mansingh and Glenn Weir for umpiring, and to Kyle Weir and Raymond from Donaghcloney CC for their organisation and excellent hospitality.