BECKWITHSHAW lifted the Birtwhistle Cup for the first time on Sunday in an epic contest against a brave Bilton which went right down to the final ball at Otley CC.
Needing two to win, Joe Downing held his nerve to bowl the perfect yorker which Lewis Mallinson could only skew straight back to him for an easy run out.
It brought to an end one of the most nail-biting finishes in the competition’s long history between two exciting cricketing outfits.
The drama began early when ‘Shaw’s captain Steve Walmsley was dropped on one at square leg by Michael Donnelly off a Sam Thompson full toss.
It proved to be a costly one as Walmsley dug in deep to bat his side to a competitive total. Stuart Ellison’s quick fire double- taking the wickets of Dax Guy (11) and Sam Critchley (1) got Bilton on the board.
Two quickly became five when Donnelly trapped Richard Wilson lbw for ten, Ben Simpson bowled Peter Hotchkiss with a peach for a duck and Daz Seddon caught Callum Irvine for 15 after the ‘keeper had slapped three consecutive boundaries off Dave Hardcastle.
However while the walls were crumbling around him ‘Shaw’s talismanic skipper stood firm. Joined at the crease by Joe Downing the pair added an undefeated 136 for the sixth wicket.
Some late order hitting pushed ‘Shaw up to 233-6. Walmsley finished one short of a deserved hundred and Downing a swashbuckling 66 not out.
Simpson proved Bilton’s most economical bowler with 1-24 off his nine overs but their 33 extras would later come back to bite them.
After tea Bilton set about compiling a successful run chase with number one Donnelly searching for his third consecutive three figure score in the competition.
Donnelly and fellow opener Andy Groves started conservatively against the bowling of Andy Gott (0-28) and Gareth Bass (0-16).
After adding 66 for the first wicket the former was caught and bowled by Sam Critchley for 33. The off spinner then had Si Collings snaffled by Gott for five as Bilton started to wobble.
Groves was joined by Teessider Lee Heslop and they stood firm to add 67 for the third wicket. But just as they looked comfortable two wickets in two balls by Matthew Smart swung the game back in ‘Shaw’s favour. Heslop (30) and Dave Hardcastle out in consecutive deliveries.
With the rate now building to well over eight an over Bilton went for broke with Groves and Mallinson moving up through the gears.
After a couple of thumping cuts through the covers Groves’s long vigil was finally ended when he skied a pull straight down the throat of Walmsley at cow corner for a superb 92.
The wicket took Smart’s figures to 3-58.
‘Shaw smelled blood but Mallinson and Ben Simpson kept the fight alive to take the game into the final over.
Needing 11 to win Simpson was bowled first ball by Downing. Skipper Matt Shaw was then run out for one, chasing a quick second. Sam Thompson was then bowled before Seddon scampered a single.
With two deliveries left Mallinson found some inner strength to smash a six. Downing then somehow bowled a wide off the final delivery to leave Bilton needing just two off the extra ball. But with the pressure on him the seamer dug in deep to pull off a miraculous deliver and ran out Mallinson at the non strikers end.
Walmsley was named man-of-the-match for his invaluable contribution.
An emotional Matt Shaw meanwhile praised his men for their valiant display in defeat, sentiments echoed by club president Jane Blackburn as the dust settled on the most exciting cup final for years.