CHESTER-LE-STREET will be spending spring time at home instead of sunny Barbados after they fell at the final hurdle of the Cockspur Club t20 Cup at the County Ground in Chelmsford.
After the heartbreak of relinquishing their NEPL title on the final day of the league season it was hoped there would be massive compensation via the national t20 competition, but it was not to be as Ealing coasted to victory in the final played under floodlights.
In their semi-final against Cheshire side Hyde, the Cestrians got off to a bad start, losing two wickets in the first over and then struggled to gain momentum. Their one over of rapid scoring was the fifth in which they hit 17 to take the score up to 37-2. After that it was a grind with Richard Waite keeping his head while others found things tough against some nagging Hyde bowling.
The 100 eventually came up after 17.4 overs, but the next eight balls produced just two runs before Ian Hunter cracked a six in the last over from which a crucial 12 runs were squeezed, with tWaite run out from the final ball having made 57 from 57 balls.
In reply, Hyde raced out of the traps, with skipper James Duffy cracking 29 from 21 balls to take his team to 38-0 in the first five overs.
It looked like game over at that point, but brilliant spells of bowling by Graeme Cessford (1-10 in four overs) and Quentin Hughes (3-15 in four overs) turned the screw as Hyde slumped from 49-1 to 71-7. After that they were second best, with some superb fielding from Andrew Smith capping a great team recovery as Hyde were closed out on 109-8 to see Chester through to the final by five runs.
The vital toss for the floodlit finale then went the way of the Southerners Ealing, and they asked Chester to bat first.
Simon Birtwisle (19 from 22 balls) and John Coxon (22 from 32 balls) gave them a solid start in an opening stand of 43, but only 26 runs were scored in the middle six-over spell, and the innings never really picked up any real thrust until the 15th over when Liam Simpson hit a six and a four to lift the score to 90-3.
But again the fireworks failed to materialise as the Ealing bowlers maintained their composure, with only 30 runs coming from the last 30 balls as Chester were contained to a score of 120-4.
With the modest score of the day to defend, disaster struck Chester when they put down Ealing’s star man Chris Peploe at slip from the very first ball of the innings.
And that was just about that as Peploe then peppered the boundary, and along with opening partner Ollie Wilkin rushed Ealing to a comprehensive 10-wicket victory in just 15.4 overs. Peploe ended 56 not out scored from 44 balls, while Wilkin was unbeaten with 63.