Welshmen in sixth round as Swansea City left-back blows Roche Old Boys away, reports Elgan Alderman
The encounter between Ynystawe and Roche Old Boys saw 22 cricketers take to the field, but it was to a footballer that the Welsh hosts owed their advance to the quarter-finals of the Watsons Village Cup.
Teenager Matthew Blake, nominally a left-back for Swansea City Under-18s but often a seam bowler of esteem, continued his weekend of all-round excellence to bowl his side to a six-wicket victory.
On Saturday, the 17-year-old had scored 79 and taken 4 for 31 against Tondu in Division 2 of the South Wales Premier Cricket League. On Sunday, Blake made it 10 scalps for the weekend, taking 6 for 30 in 7.4 overs to blow Roche’s batting line-up away.
Though they currently sit bottom of County Division 1 of the Cornwall Cricket League, Roche’s Nigel Spencer was confident the cup could bring the best out of the club. After all, Roche have won the Devon & Cornwall group of the NVC for the past five years.
“You can get the bogey on a team in the league,” said Spencer. “But when you’re playing someone different, there’s no mental barrier.”
The home side too sit just above the relegation zone, while the two teams have played each other twice in recent years with the series level at one apiece.
Ynystawe, the 2001 champions, had registered a record score on their home ground the day before, and so when the Cornishmen won the toss they unsurprisingly elected to bat first.
Dean Burnett (34) and Adam Trudgeon (15) began in watchful fashion, taking 23 runs in the opening 10 overs from Lee Hicks and Rhys Palmer before reaching the 20-over drinks break on 52 without loss.
Both openers were then removed in quick succession, but Courtney Rowe (34) and James Hunkin (31) put on a 50 partnership and Roche still had hopes of posting 200 – a competitive score in their eyes. But at 120 for 2, Blake came into the attack and altered the complexion of the match.
The teenager, who has been with the club for more than a decade, first cleaned up Rowe and Hunkin before removing four more visiting batsmen. Though no such technology was available, the testimony of those who faced him suggests Blake was clocking speeds of around 75mph, and Spencer reckoned Blake would be a Premier League opening bowler back in Cornwall. The visitors finished on 164 all out in 39.4 overs, despite the best efforts of 16-year-old Harry Trethewey (21).
Though Roche felt their total was below par, they had good reason to believe they could still pull off a victory. In their Round five match against Burbage & Easton Royal CC, their opponents had been 186 for 3 in pursuit of 207 before embarking on a sensational collapse of seven wickets for just five runs.
Ynystawe got off to a flyer, navigated on their path to victory by two Toms – Blake, brother of Matthew, and Davies. They reached 50 without loss in the opening 10 overs.
Shortly after, Roche finally got the breakthrough but Blake’s departure merely summoned Brendan McKay to the crease, fresh from a century in the Round 5 win over North Perrott.
Davies was eventually stumped for 60, but McKay’s unbeaten 47 saw Ynystawe home with 7.2 overs and six wickets to spare. The southpaw seam of Trethewey (1 for 23) and the off-spin of skipper Shaun Trudgeon (1 for 13) were not enough to arrest the tide.
“It was excellent – we bowled and fielded well,” said Ynystawe’s Steve Beasley.
“We scored 372 for 3 in a relegation battle yesterday against Tondu, so we were in a buoyant mood. Long may it continue! But we do need to take our cup form into the league.”
Can Beasley and his boys start to dream of a trip to Lord’s, 16 years after the club went all the way and beat Elveston to become National Village Cup champions? “I never look further than the next round we’re playing in.”
The quarter-final will see the Welshmen travel to Oxfordshire on July 23 to play Aston Rowant, who defeated Rockhampton to reach the last eight.
Meanwhile, the 48 Roche players and supporters who had made the trip remained in good spirits despite the result, with the musical stylings of John Legend accompanying them on their four-hour journey back to the South West.
“We’ve had a great day,” said Spencer. “Ynystawe were a very good host club, very sociable and friendly. I hope they do well – they’ll be a handful.”
The looming threat of a Monday morning at work did nothing to temper Roche’s approach to après-cricket.
“There will be a few sore heads in Cornwall tomorrow morning.”
A rare trip to Lord’s and a battle for village cricket immortality awaits two teams on September 17, but some families are able to play on that famous turf with regularity.
Hampshire’s Liam Dawson is no stranger to the Home of Cricket, having featured in England’s 211-run win over South Africa in July. Dawson, then a 19-year-old, also played in the 2009 Friends Provident Trophy final against Sussex when four wickets from Dominic Cork saw the Hawks (as they were still known) lift the trophy.
But Dawson’s Lord’s love affair goes back even further than that. In August 1990, a five-month-old Liam watched on as his father, Andy, won the NVC with Goatacre CC.
Keep an eye on the crowd on September 17. You never know who you might see waddling to the crease next.