Woodcutters Win the ESCA President's Plate!
Sunday 17 August saw the final of the East of Scotland Cricket Association President’s Plate at Inch Park in Edinburgh.
The finalists – Hawick and Wilton CC and the Woodcutters CC – had met before in the 2013 final, when Hawick and Wilton came out on top.
The Woodcutters CC are a non-league team, and had endured 53 trophyless years since their foundation. A social, midweek team, the Woodcutters’ emphasis lies in spreading the game, and encouraging new players. During their midweek games, each player bowls two overs, and batsmen retire at 25, in an effort to maximise participation.
En route to the final, the Woodcutters had conquered established league sides, such as Dunfermline and Tranent, beating the latter in a nail-biting last-ball finish. Hawick and Wilton, another league team, represented a strong challenge, particularly with the added pressure of a final.
Woodcutters captain, Andy Williamson, lost the toss, and the Woodcutters were put in to bat. After opener Chris Banks was out early for 5 from a great ball from Neil Storey, Graeme Campbell and Jonathan Bees consolidated. The pitch had variable bounce, and the outfield was extremely slow, having not been cut for a week due to heavy rain. A low total looked inevitable; the only question was how many runs would be enough?
Campbell and Bees batted on, before Campbell was out for 19. Ali and Bees continued to look around for runs, but with boundaries at a premium, the scoreboard was ticking over slowly, and the Woodcutters never moved past four runs an over. After Ali was out for 6, Marlow and Bennett both tried to go for the big hits, but both were out cheaply. Bees fell for 37, and after Hider and Bowie put on some quick runs, the former being not out, the Woodcutters reached 117-8 from their 30 overs.
The Hawick and Wilton innings began slowly, with both openers keen to get their eye in after seeing the pitch in the previous innings. The key breakthrough came after the father and son opening pair tried to raise the scoring rate, taking on the arm of Alan Marlow, resulting in Alexander senior being run out. This proved just the breakthrough the Woodcutters needed.
Following this, Jonathan Bees began a remarkable over, taking three wickets in four balls. Hawick and Wilton had collapsed from 10/0 to 13/4. With more than 100 still needed, Hawick needed to build a partnership. This they did, reaching 34/4, although another remarkable spell from Asman Ali effectively ended the game. Taking four quick wickets, Hawick and Wilton were left with a mountain to climb on 51/8. After Nikkie Vohra got rid of the last recognised batsmen, leaving Hawick on 55/9, the Woodcutters were on the verge of victory.
All that remained for Hawick and Wilton was to salvage some dignity. With the last two men needing to double the Hawick score, with a required run rate creeping up past eight an over, the Woodcutters strove hard for a final wicket that would end the game early. That wasn’t to be, although with tight fielding and bowling, Hawick soon needed upwards of ten an over. With 8 balls to go, Hawick were mathematically incapable of winning the game (barring a major bowler meltdown), and so the Woodcutters could enjoy the final over, knowing the trophy was within their grasp.
The batsmen blocked out the over, although this mattered little as the Woodcutters’ celebrations started in earnest. After 53 years of hurt, a small, social, non-league cricket team based in Inverleith had completed a David and Goliath story, beating three league teams to win their first ever piece of silverware.
Man of the match was Jonathan Bees, for his 37 runs (the highest in the match), and for his 3 wickets to devastate the Hawick and Wilton top order.
Thanks go to: Hawick and Wilton for being enjoyable opponents, and for playing the game in the right spirit; the umpires and scorers for making the game possible; and ESCA for supporting local cricket throughout the East of Scotland.
The Woodcutters party continued long into the night.