In what has clearly been a difficult and truncated cricket season, the South Notts Cricket League must be given credit for organising a very successful competitive format at short notice.
The top four teams in each division went forward into semi finals last weekend, 6th September where Belvoir 3s beat table toppers West Bridgefordians 4th XI to qualify for the Div H South final against Poplars CC from Clifton, Nottingham.
The final was hosted at the Belvoir Cricket Ground, Knipton on a glorious late summers day. Stand in Belvoir skipper, Matt Harland won the toss and invited the visitors to bat.
Belvoir started strongly with 3 of the first 4 overs being maidens thanks to some sharp and accurate bowling from Max Arlott (7.5-3-23-4) and 15 year old Sammy Hardy (8-2-11-2) . Max took the first wicket in the 3rd over, caught behind by another 15 year old , Tommy Bealby, the first of 4 catches for him behind the stumps. After 10 overs of very tight bowling, the visitors had been restricted to 16-1 and the ensuing bowling changes bought little respite for them. Olly Poole (also 15) replaced Sammy at the Vic Heppenstall end and bowled an inspired spell of medium pace with numerous variations, bowling the Poplars opener, who had hung around for 12 overs, for just 6 runs. Liam Tew (14 years old) did a similar job at the other end replacing Max and finished with figures of 6-0-15-2. Elliot Derby was the 5th bowler used and he claimed the valuable scalp of the Poplars number 7 who had just hit three boundaries on his way to a rapid 13 and was looking dangerous. The return of the opening bowlers polished off the visitors innings as they succumbed to a total of 104 all out in 33.5 overs.
So the target was set, 105 in 40 overs at a modest run rate of just over 2.5. Belvoir opened up with veteran Mark Ebb and Liam Tew (14) who was fresh from his superb 92 which steered Belvoir to victory in their semi final. However it was not to be plain sailing as Ebb was adjudged LBW from the first ball of the innings. Liam was joined by another 15 year old in Jacob Marshall-Taylor but was out in the 3rd over, another LBW to the young in-swinging bowler Rashid. When Jacob was bowled for 11 in the 8th over and skipper Matt Harland going in similar fashion in the next, the home side had their backs against the wall. Tommy Bealby came in at 6 and Joined Matt Veasey and slowly but surely they started to rebuild the innings. Waiting to punish the rare bad ball and running well between the wickets but with the score on 63 , an uncharacteristically loose shot from Veasey saw him caught at mid off. The fall of Sammy Hardy a couple of overs later, bowled by a very good yorker brought Chris Bealby to the crease to join his son Tommy who was batting patiently on 7 not out. With time and overs on their side the pair grafted away slowly whittling down the target and seeing off the 4 main Poplars bowlers. The introduction of leg spin brought relief from the nagging accuracy of the seamers and in the 36th over after a couple of loose deliveries Bealby senior drove the last ball through mid off for 4 and a memorable victory.
A terrific team performance which was only marred by the absence of regular Skipper Robbie McNeish who was away on business and who has done such a great job in running the team this season. Great for the club to win a trophy but even more encouraging is the progress being made by the youngsters who were the backbone of this side, both in the semi final and the final.