It’s hard to conceive of anyone in the 300-plus crowd at Hemel Town’s Heath Park ground on Sunday having seen such a dramatic end to a 100-over cricket cup final.
And they probably never will again.
Ninety-nine overs and five balls had been bowled when Leverstock Green drew level with Abbots Langley’s 261-5 thanks to four leg balls from the game’s penultimate ball.
Six wickets down, Green knew another run was required to lift the Readers County Trophy or Abbots would emerge triumphant courtesy of having lost fewer wickets.
Although Majid Khan tried for the second time to lay bat on ball, he didn’t. But no matter. While Abbots’ huge appeals for LBW went unrewarded, a leg bye was scrambled by him and LGCC legend Dave Tyson as the ball trickled into the slips.
Cue scenes of mass delirium from Leverstock supporters, who piled onto the outfield to salute their heroes in scenes of joy wholly unconfined.
It was a game Green had by the scruff of the neck, needing 47 from the final 10 overs with as many as six wickets in hand. For their part, Abbots might have felt their 261-6 was around 40 short of par, allowing a steady chase at little more than five runs per over.
With 16 first-class centuries to his name, former Surrey & Middlesex batsman Scott Newman sized up the Green attack in compiling a 159-ball 139 at the top of the Abbots order.
He and prolific all-rounder Chris Chellew, who scored 43, put on 121 for the first Abbots wicket, but a late 24 n/o from Matt Dunstone was the next highest contribution as Green engineered a steady flow of wickets while Newman crashed the ball to all parts of the Heath Park ground until his dismissal in the 46th over of the innings.
Abbots reached the 200 mark in the 38th over but couldn’t up the scoring rate to set a target much north of 250 – and this late-innings malaise was to prove crucial.
Green opener Miles Barnard set about the chase with typical gusto. His 45-ball 55 ended in the 13th over with No 2 Lewis Koch already having departed earlier.
However it was Nahim Iqbal’s patient 32, an anchor of an innings, which allowed first stylish stroke-maker Kris Jadeja to compile 62 and then Ajit Kumar to amass 55 – an innings considered important enough in its timing to earn the all-rounder the Man of the Match award.
Chellew bowled Kumar with the first ball of the 50th over, at which point Green required a further seven runs from the remaining five balls.
A single from Levy skipper Dayle Littlejohn came next, followed by a similar outcome to ball three via the bat of Tyson. Littlejohn was then cleaned up by Chellew going for a big shot to settle the tie before the late, late drama.