Nassington claimed the Burghley Park sixes crown tonight (July 8) after a thrilling, and very painful, final against Ufford Park.
Each night competition organisers award a ‘champagne moment’ prize for the most spectacular or decisive piece of play. They couldn’t be so cruel though as to give it to Nassington’s Conor Craig for the fearsome bouncer that effectively settled the final in his side’s favour.
Ufford skipper Andy Larkin, a big hitter who had surprisingly struggled in earlier rounds, looked set to carry his side to victory when facing the final ball of the penultimate over, bowled by Craig. It was fast and short and thudded into Larkin’s face before he could execute his chosen pull shot.
It was a sickening blow that silenced the sizeable crowd. The sighs of relief when Larkin scrambled to his feet a couple of minutes later were accompanied by generous applause, but the ball had crashed into the batsman just below his eye and he could take no further part in the game.
Larkin. who didn’t wear a helmet despite the rapidly-gathering gloom, was unbeaten on 27 at the time and his side required just 13 from seven balls when he picked up his injury. His team-mates were unable to finish the job as Dan Banadaranaike bowled a tight last over to leave Nassington victorious by five runs.
It was redemption of sorts for Nassington who had lost a controversial final to the last delivery 12 months ago. They looked the strongest side throughout this year’s event, even starting with a competition record 135 in five overs against Laxton Park in the first round.
Craig, the player of the tournament for the second year running, struck 30 of Nassington’s 75-5 in the final. He scored 177 runs in four matches and was out just once as his last innings of the week was ended by Larkin’s catch off the bowling of Joe Harrington.
Fellow opener Tom Norman also made 30, but Ufford fought back well in the second-half of the innings and 75 always looked vulnerable, especially when Larkin and Ross Keymer bashed 23 from the second over of their innings, bowled by Adam McDermott.
But Adam Morris dismissed Keymer before Larkin’s unfortunate accident.
Craig top scored with an unbeaten 37 as Nassington breezed past hosts Burghley with seven balls to spare in a disappointingly one-sided semi-final, while Ufford, who competed in the very first Burghley sixes competition 57 years ago, and won it two years later, cruised past Baston by 30 runs in their last-four tie.
The impressive Keymer bashed five sixes in his unbeaten 57 against a team who were playing in the competition for just the second time.
Joe Corder of Ufford won the champagne moment prize for a run out with a 40-yard direct hit in the final.
C. Craig c Larkin b Harrington 30
T. Norman c Javid b Hart 30
A. McDermott run out 1
D. Bandaranaike b Corder 8
A. Morris not out 3
A. Laud run out 1
TOTAL (5 wkts) 75
Bowling: R. Keymer 0-21, W. Javid 0-16, T. Hart 1-15, J. Harrington 1-14, J. Corder 1-10.
UFFORD PARK A. Larkin ret hurt 27
R. Keymer c McDermott b Morris 16
W. Javid not out 10
J. Harrington c and b Bandaranaike 0
T. Hart run out 0
J. Corder not out 0
TOTAL (3 wkts) 70
Bowling: T. Norman 0-10, A. McDermott 0-23; A. Morris 1-19, C. Craig 0-8, D. Bandaranaike 1-7.
NASSINGTON 57-1 (C. Craig 37no) beat BURGHLEY PARK 56-4 (G. Hook 24).
UFFORD PARK 89-3 (R. Keymer 57no) beat BASTON 59-4 (R. Dunn 32, T. Hart 2-6).