Avoncroft visited Kidderminster CC on Thursday 5th July as they took on Droitwich in the Carter Cup final. The club made it their third final in four years in this competition thanks to victories against Stone CC, Belbroughton and Netherton in the early rounds of the competition. However the club had never managed to bring home the silverware in the previous two performances in the final.
On a glorious evening and many of the Avoncroft faithful making the short trip to Kiddy, Skipper Hunter lost the toss and his side were put into bat. This decision looked to be bad one by the Spa skipper as the first two balls of the innings were smashed for a 4 and then a 6 by new signing Steve Eastham. However things took a turn for the worse as Dan Elliott was given out LBW to one that kept a little low from his first ball faced. This was a huge blow for the Croft as Elliott had been the leading run scorer in this competition. It was the turn of Keeper/Batsmen Murray to walk to the crease however he was soon to follow Elliott back in the pavilion after he got a ball which came off his pad onto the stumps.
Big hitting Cound then joined Eastham to the crease and after a few lusty blows he followed Murray and Elliott back to the pavilion for 35. Experienced Whitehead came to the crease and the explosive left hander continued his fine form with some lusty blows around the sun-kissed ground. However after Eastham (35) was looking set for his first 100 for the club he was run out due to a mix up between Whitehead and himself and this left the croft in a little bit of trouble.
Youngster Heslop came to the crease and it was the mix of experience and youth who batted sensibly together and quickly added runs as the croft crowd got behind the side. In a game which lacked a period of sensible batting this partnership really changed the way the game was going. Whitehead was caught behind on 48 thanks to a smart take by Spa skipper Fenn. This brought Chris Pitt to the crease and with a few expansive sweeps he took the croft to a total that was defendable. He was supported by Big Dan Anson who had his off stump knocked out of the ground and Jase Patel 1* finishing the innings not out with Pitt 11* as the croft reached the total of 162/7.
With 163 required it was the turn of the bowlers to step up and support the batsmen as they had done in the tournament so far. Elliott struggled to find his early control and the Droitwich side were feeling comfortable dismissing several runs of Elliotts first over. Things didn’t start much better for Hunter at the other end however it was the turn of Cound junior who ran out the Droitwich opener Taylor. With Hunter switching things around and the experience vice skipper Athey came into the attack and soon started to cause some trouble as he picked up the 2nd and 3rd wicket in his first over leaving the Spa in further trouble. Hunter then joined the party taking the 4th wicket of the innings thanks to a comfortable catch from Eastham as Keen was caught for 0. With Droitwich 32/4 off 4 overs it was all to play for but the croft attack kept in control of the game as the Droitwich batsmen tried to regroup. Some great fielding and control with the ball kept the scenario down to 80 required from 4 over with 6 wickets remaining.
It was then a difficult over for the croft side as Cound received a little bit of targeting by the Spa batsmen, he recovered well having his first four balls of the over going for 20. Elliott continued at the other end and the Spa batsmen struggled to hit or contact any of the deliveries he sent down. With 2 over remaining and 56 runs required, Hunter started his final over picking up 2 wickets as the Spa batsmen need to get on with it. With 52 runs required from the final over Athey picked up another wicket and finished the innings off.
An outstanding victory for the Croft side who deserved the victory following the performance in the Final. Skipper Hunter who picked up 3-13 in the final was delighted at his team’s performance. ‘It is not every day you get to lead a side out in a final. I am pleased for the lads, we have played some great cricket in this tournament and deserve to pick up the trophy. From 1 to 11 they all gave it their all and I am hope we can take this form into the league campaign. So many people give so much to this club and it’s great that we were able to celebrate it together. It helps when you get people down to support you and the support was fantastic. It is true, it is coming home….’