Northern Champions Hallam U15s came third out of 1600 clubs in the ECB National Club U15s Championship at the finals held at Rugby School on Monday.
It was a fantastic day, held in superb surroundings and a great experience for the boys, but in any cup competition there’s only one winner and Hallam drew them in the semi-final.
Midlands champions Barnt Green are a Worcestershire club, strong in all areas - especially batting and slow bowling. In the final against the South West champions St Cross Symondians they hammered 219-3 in their 20 overs and won by 107 runs. Hallam’s Ahaan Kaul and Charlie Bourne had them four down for 12 in the semi-final, but such is their strength in depth that they recovered to 121-9, though well below the totals that Hallam have been getting in previous rounds.
But Barnt Green bowled with excellent control, taking the pace off the ball and with excellent fielding on a large ground they contained and frustrated the Hallam batsmen who collapsed to 69-9.
It was a different story in the third place play-off against London and South-East champions Esher. Hallam batted first, determined to restore their self-belief, and made 142-2. Captain Sam Davison retired on 50, Spike Thompson batted through for 34* and young Romir Singh made 24.
It was a match-winning performance but they still had to fight. Bourne removed the first two batsmen, but again there was a recovery. Ashwin Tamhankar bowled superbly in the middle overs to hold them back, but Esher needed only 13 in the last two overs with the batsmen set. Bourne and Thompson stepped up, restricted them to eight and Hallam won and were presented with their third-place trophy by England’s one-day captain, Eoin Morgan.
It was a great performance after the disappointment in the semi-final and the frustration of having three of their top players and their inspirational coach, Steve Heyes, stuck on the other side of the world, on holidays planned long before the national finals were even a glint in his eye.
But the eleven players on the day played as a team with courage and determination and everyone was proud of them.