Gloucestershire Under 14 Boys: 2019 Taunton Festival
Played 4, Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 1
Gloucestershire Under 14 Boys had to settle for the runners-up spot at the Taunton Festival after rain washed out the final day of the competition.
The team finished as runners-up to Buckinghamshire after the weather denied them a chance to overthrow their rivals on day five.
Despite this disappointment, it remained a successful week for the squad who won two matches and recorded a winning draw against the eventual champions.
Glos began the festival with a commanding 62 run victory over Shropshire. Batting first, Glos posted 283-8 from their 50 overs before bowling their opponents out for 221. The boys got their tournament off to a flying start thanks to a strong opening partnership between Tommy Boorman (Dumbleton) and Sam Brooks (Bristol YMCA). The loss of Boorman for 34 did little to check the flow of runs as skipper Ben French (45) (Frocester) looked in confident mood from the off. At the other end Brooks was looking increasingly fluent and looked set for triple figures before falling for 72. A middle order collapse threatened to derail the innings but Glos got back on track thanks to an excellent partnership between Charlie Brook (46) (Cirencester) and Toby Rice (28) (Lodway). The pair dug in to halt Shropshire’s momentum before taking the game to their opponents to post an impressive 283.
In reply, Glos looked in control as two early wickets for pace bowler Ethan Corbett (Dumbleton) were complimented by an excellent spell of 3-27 from Winterbourne spinner Jack Studley. But Shrops recovered and nearly took the game away from Glos thanks to some impressive middle order counter-attacking – including 82 from number seven Tom Griffin. Left arm seamer Ahmed Tabraiz (Pak Bristolians), who had bowled with great accuracy and guile in his first spell, then returned to wrestle back control of the game. He took 2-29 including key man Griffin and Corbett (4-39) also took two wickets in his second spell to finish the job.
On day two Glos cruised to a one-sided 145 run victory over Oxfordshire. It was a similar story to day one as Glos began positively through Boorman (50) and Brooks (29). Another middle order collapse put Glos in trouble but they were saved by an innings of determination and class from Ahmed Syed (79) (Thornbury). He held things together and received good support from Rice (18*) as Glos posted 261-9.
In reply Glos bowled with discipline from the start and backed it up with a strong display in the field. Opening bowlers Brook (2-20) and Tabraiz (2-19) both took early wickets to put their side in control. This was followed up by a superb spell of 3-17 from 10 by Studley as Oxon were eventually bowled out for 116.
Day three brought a hard fought encounter against Devon. Batting first again, Glos were indebted to a masterful 96 not out (103 balls, 14 fours, 1 six) from Ollie McConkey (Reading). He combined powerful stroke play with resilience to almost single-handedly help Glos post a competitive total of 187.
Syed got Glos off to the perfect start with an early breakthrough but Devon fought back with a second wicket partnership of 80 between Pascoe and Walker. Studley broke the partnership, removing Pascoe for 36 and turned the game on its head with two more wickets in an inspired spell of 10 overs 3-12. Bowling in partnership with fellow offspinner Taylor Ireland (Frocester), Glos put pressure back on their opponents who slipped from 119-2 to 144-6 with a couple of run outs contributing to their downfall. But again Devon dug in and battled back into contention, withstanding some hostile pace bowling from the returning Corbett and Syed. Because Glos had been bowled out in the 48th over Devon had 52 overs to reach their target and they needed every ball – eventually getting over the line on the final ball to win by two wickets.
Glos picked themselves up from that defeat with an excellent performance against eventual winners Buckinghamshire. Batting first, they lost an early wicket but recovered through Boorman (32) and Syed. When Boorman departed, McConkey (25 ensured Glos continued their momentum. But when the number four fell it brought a flurry of wickets as the team’s middle order problems returned. However Syed was still at the crease and batting beautifully. He just needed another partner and found just that in number eight Brook. Syed went on to score a stylish 97 while Brook added a county best 66* as Glos post a dominant 279.
In reply Bucks began well and Glos were forced to stay patient as early wickets eluded them. Despite not taking wickets Glos continued to bowl with control and kept their opponents behind the run rate. As Bucks tried to accelerate Glos began to make breakthroughs. However, recognizing that a losing draw would give them top spot in the tournament table, Bucks took the decision not to chase the win. Despite success for Corbett (3-32) and Tabraiz (2-41) Glos were unable to bowl their opponents out and had to settle for a winning draw as Bucks finished on 231-7.