If you weren’t at Bretton Gate today (June 24), you’d never have believed what happened in one of the most sensational finishes in Peterborough Town’s history.
Chasing Town’s 188 to reach the last 16 of the National Club Championship knockout, High Wycombe, losing quarter-finalists last season, were 186-3 at the start of the 39th and penultimate over and cruising to victory in what had been a rather tedious contest.
The ball was tossed to seamer Kieran Jones more in hope than expectation.
Jones, a second team regular, had been grazing in the outfield following a decent opening spell, concentrating on words of encouragement to team-mates rather than match-winning deeds.
What followed was the stuff of dreams, a sporting miracle of Headingley 1981 or Medinah 2012 proportions.
Jones claimed a hat-trick from the first three balls of the over, all caught by wicket-keeper Chris Milner, and then struck again with his next ball winning an lbw decision before completing a dramatic maiden over.
Great stuff, but Town were still second favourites. Wycombe required three to win at the start of the final over and Nathan Hawkes, who had grafted to 57 was facing 16 year-old Danny Malik, the sixth-choice bowler in an understrength attack. The visitors had three wickets in hand.
Malik’s only previous over of off-spin had yielded seven runs. His first ball was full and reverse swept hard, but straight to a fielder. The batsman ran a single. Big mistake.
Malik’s next ball saw a catch taken at mid-on by Alex Mitchell, his next delivery led to the umpire responding positively to a big shout for an lbw decision.
Still two runs required as the last man strode out to take guard. A block was followed by an ugly swipe and the ball rattling into the stumps.
An incredible seven wickets had fallen for just one run in 11 deliveries and Town had completed one of their greatest victories to secure a place in the last 16 for the first time in the club’s history.
It was breathless stuff after what had been a dour contest between two clubs shorn of several star names. Wycombe’s stars were playing minor counties cricket for Bucks, while key Town men were injured or absent.
Asim Butt (36) and David Clarke (22) powered Town to 72-1 from 12 overs before a collapse to 96-6.
Malik batted beautifully for 53 and added 60 for the seventh wicket with Matt Milner, but 188 all out looked under par on a hot day and with a rapid outfield available.
Vansh Bajaj struck in the first over of Wycombe’s reply, but patient batting looked to have given Wycombe a comfortable win.
But then the ball was tossed to Jones and all hell broke loose.
ECB Royal London National Club Championship - Round 4 - Scorecard:
C. Milner c Russell b Zaib 4;
D. Clarke b Thompson 22;
A. Butt c Callis b Lasseter 36;
V. Bajaj b Thompson 4;
A. Mitchell c Zaib b Dobbs 12;
K. Judd c Russell b Dobbs 1;
D. Malik c Higgins b Lasseter 53;
M. Milner c Callis b Haddon 15;
M. Saif not out 8;
N. Haider c b Zaib 2;
K. Jones c Russell b Zaib 3;
TOTAL 188 all out
E. Callis lbw Saif 61;
D. Cranfield-Thompson b Bajaj 0;
W. Hatton b Milner 17;
N. Hawkes not out 59;
G. Russell c C. Milner b Jones 21;
A. Dobbs c C. Milner b Jones 0;
A. Zaib c C. Milner b Jones 0;
A. Higgins lbw Jones 0;
C. Haddow c Mitchell b Malik 0;
G. Lasseter lbw Malik 0;
B. Hoggan b Malik 0;
TOTAL 187 all out
Bowling: V. Bajaj 8-0-37-1; K. Jones 6-1-16-4; M. Saif 8-0-38-1; M. Milner 8-1-35-1; N. Haider 8-0-37-0; D. Malik 1.5-0-8-3.