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Lee leads London to narrow victory over plucky Lichfield

12 September 2014

Stephen Fay sees London triumph again at Southgate

richard watt

Loss and gain: the London captain, Chris Lee, calls for his partner to wait

Loss and gain: the London captain, Chris Lee, calls for his partner to wait

LICHFIELD arrived in Southgate, north London, for the fourth time in five years with something to prove. They and London were finalists last year, and Lichfield had been humbled, having batted first and been all out for 132 in 34.4 overs. London had needed only 24.2 overs to knock off the runs, for the loss of only two wickets.

The memory of it rankled. When he won the toss, Matthew Lefroy, Lichfield's captain, asked London to bat first this time, hoping to reverse the pattern of last year's game.

In most years, the Church Times Cricket Cup Final is played in warm sunshine. This year the clouds were low in the sky, but it was always possible that the sun would break through, which would help the side batting second. Another factor in Lichfield's favour was the absence of Jez Barnes, the outstanding London cricketer in recent cup finals, who has an injured back.

London's captaincy had passed to Chris Lee. Lee, an unknown quantity as captain and finalist, had with him another five other assistant curates on the team, recent graduates from St Mellitus College, in west London.

London's openers were veterans of the eleven, and both played cautiously. Matt Beeby, a tall, slim figure, capable of sweetly timed cut shots off the back foot, made the pace, reaching his 50 when his partner, Joe Moffatt, was on 25. Moffatt then scored only two more before being bowled, but the opening partnership of 89 was a sound foundation.

Lee, batting at no. 3, is a polite batsman, always making his intentions clear to his partner. This was necessary, since London's batsmen did something rare in Church Times finals: they ran sharply between the wickets, adding breathless twos to the score instead of idle singles. Some of those were close-run, but every one was welcome, because Lichfield were bowling tightly - more so than they had last year.

At lunch, the score was 118 for 1. After 36 overs, the run-rate was little more than three an over, and there were only 14 overs left in the innings. To push the scoring rate to 200, the rate would have to double.

It did. Beeby started to hit straighter and more fiercely. Two sixes took him to 99, and he brought up his 100 in the 44th over, with a quickly run two.

Susan Young, a former Church Times news editor, attended the match with the paper's former editor, Dr Bernard Palmer. She had reported on the final in her day, despite having no cricketing background. She talked gleefully of the batsmen "scampering" between the wickets.

Beeby, who had been dropped on 80, was dropped twice more on 102, while Lee began to unveil a talent developed at Ridley Hall. A six hit over the sight screen was, he said later, his biggest ever. Two more sixes meant two lost balls. Lee's 50 came up in the 48th over, and 16 balls later he was not out for 82 (8 fours, three sixes). Beeby had reached a commendable 116 (10 fours, two sixes) when he was finally out in the last over. His hundred made him Man of the Match.

Despite some fine fielding on the cover boundary, London had scored 109 runs in the last ten overs, and had lost only two wickets in the 50-over innings, a repeat of 2013. Of the Lichfield bowlers, Taylor and Lefroy had the misfortune to coincide with London's late rush, and in their last two overs gave away 30 and 27 runs respectively.

Lichfield were facing a forbidding target, but at the start of their last ten overs, they seemed quite capable of causing the upset they so badly wanted. Their batting order had changed hardly at all since last year, but their luck had changed for the better. Andrew Cranston was dropped three times in the slips before the 50 was up.

Arthur Hack was then out lbw to Lee, who turned out to be a capable fast-medium bowler. Cranston was out two overs later, bowled by Ali Marshall. When Paul Darlington was caught behind the wicket for 39, the score was 119 for 3 after 32 overs.

Two of Lichfield's suffragan bishops, Mark Rylands of Shrewsbury and Clive Gregory of Wolverhampton, came together for the fourth wicket. They made a good fist of it, adding 33 before Bishop Rylands was bowled for 20.

Despite a noticeable deterioration in the light from quite, to very, gloomy, Bishop Gregory and Simon Taylor reached 178-4 with ten overs to go; 65 runs to win off the last ten overs did not seem hard, or even unlikely, especially as the bowlers' imprecision was contributing generously to the score (there were 21 wides in the innings).

Maybe the bowling gave less away, maybe it was the bad light, certainly there was accurate throwing in from a well-placed field, but at this point in the innings, the boundaries dried up. The umpires were looking at their light meters now, and wickets started tumbling: Taylor bowled for 19, Bishop Gregory run out for 32, Lefroy and Peter Hart both bowled by Ed Kendall.

It had been a bold effort by Lichfield, made easier by London's carelessly conceding 35 extras. Short by only 18 runs in a high-scoring game, Lichfield had proved something: patsies no longer.


Matt Beeby c. Reeve Hemming 116

Joe Moffatt b. Cranston 27

† Chris Lee not out 82

Pat Allerton not out 11 

Extras: Byes 3, Leg Byes 1, ides 2, No Balls 1 7 

Total (24.2 overs) 243 

Did not bat: § Andrew Downes, Ali Marshall, Andrew Chrystal, Tim Rose, ‡ Ed Kendall, Steve Paynter, Phil Davison 


Lefroy; Reeve;

Taylor; Hart;

Cranston; Hemming; 

Fall of Wickets:1-87, 2-232


Andrew Cranston b. Marshall 33

Arthur Hack lbw Lee 17

Paul Darlington c. (Downes) Marshall 39

Mark Rylands b. Chrystal 20

Clive Gregory run out 32

Simon Taylor b. Allerton 19

† Matthew Lefroy b. Kendall 12

‡ § Andrew Ackroyd not out 12

Peter Hart b. Kendall 6

Richard Reeve not out

Extras: Byes 4, Leg Byes 7, ides 21, No Balls 3 35

Total (50 overs) 225

Did not bat: Doug Hemming

Fall of Wickets:1-51, 2-62, 3-119, 4-152, 5-152, 5-185, 6-200, 7-205, 8-225


Kendall; Allerton; Lee; Marshall 10 1.59.2; Paynter; Chrystal 7 0.48.1

† captain

‡ vice-captain

§ wicket-keeper

Umpires: Robert Cole and Andrew Parkins

London won by 18 runs




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