The resurrected T-20 cup was claimed by Rachels-Talybont as competitive cricket drew to a run-filled close at Geufron.
• Semi-final Talybont Rachels vs Aberystwyth
An early start meant that the dew was a consideration at the toss, but Vinod Matthew chose to bat, and along with Sumesh Antony, walked out to face the music.
Peter Loxdale’s first over was a T-20 rarity, as he skilfully used the conditions to bowl a maiden. In fact, the first batting powerplay belonged to the bowling side, with the score being 31-2 at the end of the sixth over.
Loxdale had claimed the scalps of both batsmen. Ayush Sharma and Titus Matthew batted sensibly, but just as they were looking to cut loose, Salmon had Sharma LBW for 17, and Matthew’s ramp shot on a slow pitch only managed to give wicketkeeper Steffan Davies an easy catch, Pat Daniel being the grateful bowler.
The hundred came up in the 15th over, but the last few overs saw batsmen cutting loose, with the 18th over going for 28 runs, every one of them to midwicket by Farhan as he set himself deep in his crease to play the pull .
Simultaneously, Zaid Khan showed tremendous speed between the stumps to support Farhan, hurling himself at both creases. The pair put on 61, Sohaib Syed dismissing Khan for 33, and Loxdale claiming a third wicket as Jack Allen caught Farhan for a tremendous 55. Phil Abraham and Bava then took the score to an imposing 190.
The slowness of the pitch, which had initially inhibited strokeplay, meant that any short delivery sat up to be punished, and Aber openers Steffan Davies and Matt Salter attacked from the start, Davies showing classical strokes, and Salter utilising his wonderful eye and power.
After 10 overs, the pair were exactly halfway and a miraculous runchase was on the cards. However, the recall of Farhan turned the match, as he had Davies caught for 40, and immediately bowled Saunders.
Titus Matthew got sharp turn in bowling Loxdale. Inevitably, the runs started to dry up, and when Salter was bowled by Farhan for 55, the game ended as a contest. Nigel Salmon and Ioan Morris sacrificed themselves, and Anthony Burrell ended unbeaten on a valiant 29, with the total on 128.
• Final Talybont Rachels Vs Commoners
With Commoners having despatched Aberaeron in a low-scoring tie at the Vicarage fields, the final started in mid-afternoon. Talybont Rachels probably had an advantage in having already played one match on the same pitch, an advantage compounded by winning the toss.
Openers Matthew and Antony now played more confidently, and put on 64 runs for the first wicket before Mo Aslam then dismissed both. Arshad Sher managed to put some brake on the scoring in only conceding 26 runs off his four overs and dismissing Ayush Sharma for 31.
The pattern of the first match was repeated, with Farhan, Khan and Phil Abraham piling in with late runs to take the score to 194. Guy Barron put in some sterling work with the ball when the willow was flaying, claiming three wickets.
The pitch was slowing up badly, meaning that runscoring was very difficult indeed for Commoners.
With the ball starting to keep low, the accuracy of the bowling kept strokemaking in check. Lynchpin Mo Aslam was run out early by Phil Abraham, and the big hitting Arshad Sher was caught in the deep off Mohit Sharma. Ravi Mander, 24, and Alex Bellennie, 36, put in brave efforts to get the innings to respectability, but with Khan and Joel Abraham dismissing batsmen for ducks, no real acceleration occurred.
The chase finished well short with nine wickets down, Barron ensuring his side saw it through to sunset and the end of a dynamic eight hours.
Mr Robin Varley presented the trophy to Vinod Matthew. No individual efforts were rewarded, but the following are worthy of mention.
Best shot – the towering straight drive played by Steffan Davies which flew into the Geufron gorse, reminiscent of golfer Phil Mickleson.
Best delivery – the astonishing offbreak bowled by Titus Matthew which ripped through Peter Loxdale’s gate.
Best Catch – Alex Bellennie’s leaping effort on the run at long on to dismiss Bava Vasu.
Best ground fielding – Mohit Sharma’s pickup and direct hit from side-on.