Kimberley Institute 2nd XI overcame Division C champions Hoveringham in a thoroughly absorbing Popkess Cup final at Newdigate Street on Sunday, man-of-the-match Andy Layton seeing them over the line with an unbeaten 77.
Kimberley’s Steve Bennett won the toss and asked Hoveringham to bat first and he nearly had an instant reward when Jack Blatherwick found the edge of Richard Coleman’s bat in the first over, but the catch was put down at slip. .
Instead Coleman (25) and fellow opener Ben Lee (70) added 78 for the first wicket as Hoveringham rattled along at five-an-over and looked well set for a commanding total until Bennett (2-37) broke the stand by bowling Coleman in the 17th over.
Another wicket from Ben Crouch (1-33), bowling Chris Cupit, and Bennett’s second via a good catch on the boundary from Blatherwick to see off the big hitting Sean Polley (14) left Hoveringham on 128-3 after 27 overs and the game seemed in the balance; enter Danny Williams (2-20) and Sukhdeep Sidhu (3-34) to put Kimberley in the driving seat as Hoveringham slipped to 166-8 and all hopes of a big score went with it.
First to fall was captain Stuart Walton as Williams found the edge of his bat and Harry Ratcliffe took a sharp catch to send him on his way. With the runs drying up Lee looked to go over the top, but Sidhu out-foxed him as he came down the wicket only to be stumped smartly by Ratcliffe.
Murray de Banke (19) came to the crease and looked to take the attack to Sidhu as he struck him for a six and a four, but the bowler had the last laugh as de Banke ended up offering Alex Aldred a simple catch in the covers.
Another catch, this time from Crouch, gave Williams his second and with Sidhu bowling Adam Hugill it seemed Hoveringham might not even last their 45 overs.
Nick Walton (10*) and Dave Lee (12*) ensured that they did as their 21 run stand took Hoveringham to 187-8; way short of par, but runs on the board at least.
Indeed, the total seemed a long way off when de Banke (4-16) reduced Kimberley to 11-3; openers Aldred and Krutarth Dave were both caught behind by Coleman and James Griffiths, after cutting de Banke for four, was adjudged lbw with the keeper heading down the leg-side and the bowler the only person appealing.
The three early wickets had brought Hoveringham right back into the game but Layton, alongside Ratcliffe (47), established base camp as they slowly began to compile a stand of 85 that hauled Kimberley right back into the game.
Initially the runs came in ones and twos, interspersed with the odd boundary, but as Hoveringham saved two de Banke overs for later and his economical partner Daniel North had bowled his allocated nine overs they had to make changes and run scoring gradually became a little easier for the two batsmen and the partnership began to flourish with Ratcliffe the dominant partner.
Several good overs after the drinks break took Kimberley to 96-3 and Ratcliffe to within three of a deserved half-century, only for him to be stumped off a wide Brett Lear (1-53) delivery to make it 96-4 and the game was back in the balance again.
Another wicket would perhaps have tipped the balance in the bowling side’s favour, but a stand of 43 between Layton and Bennett (12) took Kimberley to within 50 runs of victory with Layton bringing up his half-century off his 97th ball faced.
Hoveringham threw de Banke back into the attack and he struck in his final over as Bennett edged behind; 139-5 and still in the balance. The arrival of Blatherwick (10) brought a little impetus to the run chase as he looked to score quickly with Layton and Kimberley were helped by Stuart Walton’s sole over being taken for 16.
A further ten from the next over had brought the required rate down to below a run-a-ball and the game seemed in the bag for Kimberley until Blatherwick hit a full toss from Cupit straight to Lear at mid-wicket with the score on 170 and just under five overs remaining.
In came Williams (12*) and bang went his first ball for four to the square leg boundary as he scored seven from his first three deliveries.
Kimberley now needed just nine off three overs. Three singles and a wide took that to five and when Williams hit his seventh ball for four over mid-wicket the scores were tied at the end of the 43rd over. An edged drive from Layton sealed the win next ball and the celebrations went on long into the evening.
On Saturday, the 1st XI recorded a winning draw against Welbeck as an impressive 139 from Tom Rowe powered them to 280-9 and the visitors held out for a draw amidst the gathering gloom.
Skipper Alex King picked up three wickets as they closed on 214-8.
The 2nd XI – perhaps with one eye on Sunday – fell to defeat away at Clifton Village after 70 from Harry Ratcliffe had helped them to post 180-9 which Clifton chased down for the loss of just three wickets.