Northumberland approached the Unicorns Knockout Trophy final at Wormsley on 26th August with hopes of victory after ending our 2015 Unicorns Championship campaign on a high. Victory at Luton in mid August against Bedfordshire by 5 wickets in a low scoring game meant that we won 3 consecutive Championship games for the first time since 2007 and we approached the final at Wormsley as a team in form with quiet confidence.
Heavy rain at Wormsley on the morning of the final delayed the start of the game for four hours resulting in the game being reduced to 42 overs a side. It was inevitable that winning the toss would play a big part in determining the outcome of the match and so it proved to be, with Cornwall calling correctly and asking Northumberland to bat first. After reaching 46 -1, four wickets fell for 13 runs as the ball nibbled about. Gareth Breese (50) and Micky Allan (24) then stemmed the tide adding 68 for the sixth wicket. Towards end of the innings excellent contributions by Chris Youldon (38no) and Sean Tindale (24) allowed Northumberland to close at 199-9 in their 42 overs. If victory was to be achieved it was vital that early inroads were made into the Cornwall batting order, but the wicket had eased as sun replaced leaden skies. It was not to be Northumberland’s day as Cornwall coasted to victory by 7 wickets with twelve overs to spare.
Although it was extremely disappointing to lose the final, on reflection, the whole season can be looked at with a great deal of satisfaction. After many seasons when we have struggled just to compete at this level, to finish 5th in the Championship table and reach the Unicorns KO Trophy final has to be a tremendous improvement. A great deal of this improvement has to go down to the input and influence of Geoff Cook (Team Coach) who has brought out the best in the players and we must not forget the time and effort put in by Stuart Tiffin (Team Manager). At the beginning of the season there were reservations passed in some quarters that our increased partnership with Durham was the wrong path to go down, after this season's results it has turned out to be very much the correct decision.
This season has also seen a continued improvement in our Development XI with many new and younger players making their débuts. A big thank you here goes to Steve Williams (Team Manager) and Dougal Moir (Coach) who have given a great deal to this side.
Let us hope that next season will bring further on-field improvement and success will breed success and more players commit to the cause of Northumberland CCC no matter where in the North East they are playing their club cricket.
Alan McKenna 28/8/2015
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