Reed opener Richard Wharton put in the pivotal performance with bat and gloves to deny Sessay back-to-back Watsons Village Cup titles at Lord’s.
Wharton, 25, who works as a Special Constable in Hitchin, came through a tough early spell to score an unbeaten 86 from 113 balls, steering Reed – the Hertfordshire League Championship club – to a seven-wicket victory with 25 balls to spare on a sunny afternoon in London.
In the field, Wharton stood out with two stumpings as Reed restricted Sessay – who enjoyed promotion in the York Senior League this year – to 164 for 9 from their 40 overs.
It is Reed’s second victory in a Lord’s final against Yorkshire opposition – after their 2012 win over Woodhouse Grange.
Sessay won last year’s title with a 119-run thumping of Kent’s Sibton Park, but it was soon obvious that Reed would offer a tougher proposition, especially after they won the toss and bowled under grey skies in the morning.
Jack Tidey bowled eight accurate overs at the start, though was frustrated that several lbw appeals to left-handers Mark Wilkie and Joe Watson were turned down for pitching outside leg stump.
However, Reed’s bowlers enjoyed early success from the Pavilion End. Wilkie, whose 78 helped Sessay win the 2010 cup, managed 15 this time before he hit Toby Fynn straight to mid-off.
Stuart Smith had his second catch a few overs later, when Watson tried to hit the accurate off-spinner Tom Greaves over the top, but skied it no further than mid-off, where Smith backpedalled and held on well.
The unobtrusive Mark Jackson, trying to anchor the innings, reached 28 off 54 balls, tried to hit Greaves into the Mound Stand but picked out deep square-leg. Greaves’ spin proved Reed’s trump card, and he finished with 3 for 19.
Sessay were struggling at 81 for 6, after Karl Ward had Jacob Spencer lbw, then Wharton took a sharp legside stumping to dismiss Liam Carver (brother of Yorkshire spinner Karl).
Chris Till, Sessay’s man for a crisis, began the task of edging them up to a defendable score. He took them past three figures in the 32nd over with a clipped four off his legs, and he and Tom Hall put on a fifty partnership in just 44 balls.
Hall had just struck Mitchell Cooper for a towering six into the Tavern Stand when he wandered out of his crease on 22 and Wharton did the rest.
Till continued on his way with quick feet and good running, reaching 46 up to the last ball of the innings, which he hit down extra cover’s throat to make it 164 for 9.
The Yorkshiremen needed to take early wickets if they were to have a sniff, but the sun broke through the clouds around lunchtime, making batting easier for Reed.
And Sessay missed a catch in the fourth over when Wharton edged Hall and Till, diving in front of first slip, put down a sharp one-handed chance.
Till clung on in Hall’s next over, when Will Heslam (6) flashed at one to make it 23 for 1.
Wharton, put down on 21 by Stuart Peirse off his own bowling, got through a tricky early period and knuckled down to see Reed towards the target. He collected most of his early runs through third man, and began to play some fine cut shots in what turned out to be a 61-ball half-century, including eight fours.
James Heslam came in at 46 for 2, and survived a vociferous appeal for caught behind in Peirse’s last over. As Sessay belatedly turned to their spinners, Heslam began to branch out, reaching his own half-century, and he and Wharton put on 107 for the third wicket.
The winning six was smashed towards the Pavilion by Greaves just before 5pm.
The Watsons Village Cup final at Lord’s was the culmination of a competition played by 300 teams in 32 regions of the country, and organised by its founders, The Cricketer magazine.
Sessay 164-9 (CJ Till 46; TD Greaves 3-19) lost to Reed 170-3 (RJT Wharton 86*, JA Heslam 54) by 7 wickets.
(Photo © portraitcollective/sambowles)