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Church Times Cricket Cup: Southwark overtake London in dramatic final

07 September 2012

RICHARD WATT

Historic: the Revd Leah Philbrick, the first ever woman to play in a Church Times Cricket Cup final, bowls for Southwark

Historic: the Revd Leah Philbrick, the first ever woman to play in a Church Times Cricket Cup final, bowls for Southwark

HAS a day in Southgate ever been better? Well, for London, a half-dozen more runs might have helped to improve it. But both the teams in the Church Times Cricket Cup final made such a good account of themselves that the pleasure of the day will be remembered long after any disappointment over the result.

And the London players would have had to be poor sportsmen (let alone Christians) not to have been moved by Southwark's evident delight in winning the Cup for the first time since 1975.

And in such a dramatic way. London, winning the toss, made 232 runs, one of the highest scores in a final for several years. Many teams score more than this in earlier rounds, but somehow the finals have been dominated by parsimonious bowlers and energetic fielders.

For the whole of the morning, London appeared to be powering to an unassailable total. Their top batsman, Jez Barnes (below), made a century (earning him the man-of-the-match trophy). But after lunch, the Southwark team rallied, and swept away the London tail. 

Had this season's star signing, Heston Groenewald, been on his earlier form, the Southwark run-chase would have been more confident. But this was his first match after the quarter-final in which he top-edged a ball into his eye, causing serious concussion. Wearing a helmet this time, he managed a score of 61, the best of his side, but it seemed to all watching to be too little and too slow.

But a useful partnership with Richard Perkins pushed the score along, and it was only when this was broken up 60-odd runs shy of the target (London bowled tightly, and there were several well-taken catches) that Southwark's fate appeared sealed. Although the sun continued to shine, as it did throughout the glorious day, the temperature on the field seemed to drop.

But the remaining Southwark batsmen dug in, and in a remarkable finish, masterminded by Steve Coulson, they overtook the London total with two balls to spare.

London, who won the Cup every other year between 1996 and 2008, have been rebuilding their side. Given another year to consolidate, the result might have been very different.

The game was notable for another occurrence. The last time Southwark won the Cup, an account of the game appeared in the Church Times alongside a story about early ordinations of women in the US Episcopal Church, "offending due process". The Southwark team on Thursday contained the Revd Leah Philbrick, the first woman ever to play in a Cricket Cup final. This was no token inclusion, either: she bowled the first over, a maiden, and was athletic in the field.

A full report of the match, with scorecard and more photos, will appear in next week's Church Times. The Cup was won last year by Guildford ( News, 16 September 2011)

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