Richmondshire reach national thanks to win over Merseyside team

A stunning victory over Northern CC has put Richmondshire through to the ECB National Club Championship Final, the first ever NYSD club to achieve this.

Northern from Crosby in Liverpool arrived at Hurgill Road full of confidence for the semi-final being 44 points clear at the top of their ECB Premier League.

They had little hesitation in opting to bat first when winning the toss and the decision seemed to be paying dividends as their openers laid a good foundation with an opening stand of 40 before Matty McKiernan struck within a few balls of entering the attack.

Northern continued to build carefully and at 70-2 in decent time the general opinion amongst a large crowd was that Richmond could be facing a target in the 200 region.

Gary Pratt, who has suddenly remembered that he can bowl in recent weeks, struck gold once he got to landing the ball on the pitch after a wobbly opening over.

Three wickets fell to him from mistimed shots, and with the runs beginning to dry up the whole complexion of the game changed.

118-5 then became 123-8 as Josh Dowson struck two crucial blows in three balls, including the key wicket of Chris Brownlow (34).

There was to be no way back now for Northern as Pratt (3-34), aided and abetted by McKiernan, Dowson, Sam Wood and Craig Swainston, confined the visitors to a total of 135.

With a low total to defend Northern’s tactics involved opening the bowling with two left arm spinners.

But these were no ordinary spinners, they were the main attacking weapon with Tomas Sephton having taken 85 league wickets so far this season, and spin twin Justin Snow also a key wicket taker.

Putting all their attacking eggs into the opening basket of eight overs was counterbalanced by an ultra-cautious Gary Pratt who had obviously identified them as the main threat and was determined to see them off.

This only partially worked, as the loss of Rob Carr and last weeks Mattie McKiernan  in quick succession left the Dalesmen dangling over the cliff edge on 17-2 after 12 overs.

The second tier bowlers allowed a bit more breathing space and Pratt, now accompanied by a confident Mike Layfield, began to milk regular singles as the scoring rate was eased upwards.

With the main strike threat completely nullified the two batsmen became more expansive. Pratt (55no from 94 balls) was the first to reach his half century and was quickly followed by Layfield (58 from 90 balls) who then finally perished going for the big finish.

The match-winning stand of 116 had completely done for the visitors, Layfield receiving a rapturous reception, one that was to be repeated for Pratt a few balls later as he struck the winning runs, Richmondshire victorious by seven wickets with four overs to spare.

The final will be played at the Gloucestershire County Ground, Bristol on the 23rd September against Middlesex Championship winners Stanmore, a club that has produced players such as Angus Fraser and Mark Ramprakash in the past.

While the drama was being played out in Richmond a group of the clubs old guard were missing the action but for a worthwhile cause.

The clubs over 40s were playing in the NYSD Masters final at Normanby Hall.

They first of all defeated the hosts by 49 runs with 50 not out from Clive Layfield, 25 from Mark Jobling and 21 from Andy Dade.

This took them through to a final against Sedgfield where a further 48 from Clive Layfield and 49 from Dion Wood took them to a 20 run victory to become the 2018 Masters Champions.

On Saturday the 1st team had a convincing 25 points victory against Middlesbrough.

Richmondshire did everything they could on the day, electing to bat, they piled on 253-4 before declaring in the 44th over.

Rob Carr made 59 opening and the in-form Matty McKiernan (96) shared a partnership of 98 in just 51 balls with Matty Cowling (43no), the declaration coming at the fall of McKiernan’s wicket as he searched for his first NYSD century.

It was the Richmond seamers who took the wickets, as Sam Wood (4-38) and Josh Dowson (3-30) ensured Middlesbrough were consigned to a heavy defeat.

While at various times a win for the other two title contenders looked in doubt, the day ended with all three of the leaders getting 25 point wins, and so the destination of the 2018 NYSD title remains unknown.

Barnard Castle were in bother at Stokesley after choosing to bat at one point being reduced to 107 for 8.

For the second week in a row, Rob Dixon dug in with a 58 partnership for the 9th wicket with Richie Watson (26) and he added another 25 for the final wicket, ending on 44 not out as the leaders batted out their allocated overs reaching 190-9 at tea.

This was too much for Stokesley subsided to 127 all out.

The final result of the day came from Marton, where Great Ayton just squeezed home in a nail biting finish. Ayton also elected to bat and were bowed out in 49 overs for 210.

Luke DeVlieg made 51 for Marton in reply, but Ayton kept chipping away with wickets and Marton were bowled out with 8 balls to spare for an even 200.

So the battle goes to the final day with the gaps as they were before the weekend, Barny have 4 points advantage over Ayton, and 10 over Richmondshire. Should Barny triumph, the secondary question will be who finishes top Yorkshire club and progresses to the Semi-Final at Scarborough on 15th September, so there is plenty to ponder and follow next week.

The fixtures for Saturday 8th September are: Barnard Castle v Marton, Great Ayton v Hartlepool and Thornaby v Richmondshire.

The 2nd team play their final game at home to League leaders Billingham Synthonia. Unfortunately last weeks shock defeat at Wolviston means they can no long over haul Bilingham but will hope to stay in second place to thwart Whitby’s bid for promotion.

On Sunday the 1st team make a third attempt to complete their Kerridge Cup Final against Middlesbrough, this time at Northallerton’s ground with a midday start.