Ardent defence helps ACOB
Story by: WAYNE MARTIN - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes
Never underestimate the value of a committed defence.
Athletic College Old Boys' senior club cricket team is fast earning a reputation as an expert fielding side. They brought all that burgeoning expertise to bear in yesterday's Nelson Twenty20 final when they strangled the life out of Car Company Stoke-Nayland's run chase to win by 22 runs at Saxton Oval.
It also handed ACOB their first championship title in their debut season, delighted skipper Luke Toynbee lifting the Colin Aitken Trophy at the game's conclusion after successfully defending their total of 127 for eight by dismissing Stoke-Nayland for 105 with five balls to spare.
Stoke-Nayland would have initially eyed their target with some degree of confidence. But apart from a spectacularly belligerent mid-innings offering from Stoke-Nayland batsman Alex Coles, ACOB's consistently tight bowling and suffocating fielding simply proved too much for the opposition.
Stoke-Nayland's bowlers had also previously executed effectively to restrict ACOB's batsmen to just 10 boundaries in their innings. Following his century in Saturday's opening day of the Nelson one-day competition, left-hander Jake Milton again topscored with 27 runs off 23 balls, including four boundaries, as Toynbee produced the next best offering with 22 off 17.
With opener Ben Gully playing the anchor role, he and Milton combined in a 38-run second-wicket stand in what would ultimately become the biggest partnership of the contest.
But set 128 runs for victory at 6.4 runs per over, Stoke-Nayland's batsmen struggled to breach ACOB's field as the bowlers maintained restrictive lengths, backed up by their absolute commitment all across the park.
Apart from a boundary in each of the first two overs, it was not until the big-hitting Coles came to the crease at 51 for four in the 13th over that Stoke-Nayland were finally able to unleash any sort of counterpunch.
With the noose tightening, Coles decided to launch Stoke-Nayland's belated fightback as the powerful right-hander smashed three consecutive sixes over midwicket off seamer Glen Baumfield to help lift the total to 80 for five with five overs remaining. The over cost 21 runs and any remote chance Baumfield had of being tossed the ball again.
But Coles was gone in the next over, well caught in the deep for 26 runs off just 11 balls, as the life again began to drain out of Stoke-Nayland's innings.
When Clinton Harvey captured the wickets of Dylan Eginton (9) and Darius Skeaping (6) off consecutive deliveries, Stoke-Nayland had slumped to 103 for nine with still 25 runs required and only eight balls and one wicket remaining.
Marc Allsopp wrapped it up with the first ball of the final over when he also had Mitchell Ross caught in the deep, giving Allsopp excellent figures of two for 10 off 3.1 overs and complementing similarly tight offerings from Harvey (2-15), Greg Chitty (1-13), Milton (2-15) and Toynbee (2-22).
Besides Coles' three huge sixes, Stoke-Nayland's batsmen managed only three other boundaries in their entire innings as ACOB finally celebrated a well-deserved win.
It marked a successful day for the club after ACOB's second team had earlier secured a convincing seven-wicket win over Stoke-Nayland in the second grade final. After restricting Stoke-Nayland to just 96 for eight in their 20 overs, ACOB eventually cruised through to 97 for three off 18.5 overs, opener Johnny Skeggs topscoring with 41 and Jaap Dickman finishing 36 not out.
Offspinner Skeggs had also taken two for 22 with the ball as Christian Le Gros (2-18) and Scott Dalley (2-14) provided excellent support.