Gloucestershire Under 14 Boys Round-Up
Gloucestershire Under 14 Boys secured A Division cricket for next year and put themselves into contention for top spot in their ECB group with four wins in a row.
The squad is guaranteed to finish in the top five and will end up level on points with current leaders Berkshire if they can secure victories from their remaining two fixtures.
The run of wins started away at Cornwall where Charlie Brook (3-17) (Cirencester), Taylor Ireland (2-36) (Frocester) and Ahmed Syed (2-36) (Thornbury) combined to help dismiss their hosts for just 114. An unbeaten 63 from Tommy Boorman (Dumbleton) and 43 from Sam Brooks (Bristol YMCA) ensured a nerveless chase was completed in the 21st over as Glos secured a nine wicket win.
On the road again, the boys took on Wiltshire at South Wilts CC. Openers Brooks and Soban Irfan (pictured) combined to devastating effect, adding 221 for the first wicket. Both players reached their first county hundreds in a stand that blew the home attack away. Brooks (113) played with fluency and controlled aggression while Irfan (100), knocked the ball around with intelligence and style. A late cameo from skipper Ben French (41) (Frocester) helped Glos cross the 300 barrier for the first time this season as they finished on 312-2.
In reply Wilts put up a good fight and frustrated the Glos bowlers but they were never really in contention. They ended up 99 runs short on 213-6 with the wickets shared around.
In contrast to the Wiltshire match, the game against Devon proved a low-scoring affair that went right down to the wire. Having won the toss and elected to bowl first at Tewkesbury CC, Glos reduced the visitors to 20-3 as Brook (2-25) struck twice and new ball partner Ahmed Tabraiz (1-20) (Pak Bristolians) chipped in with one. Devon applied themselves well but were never able to get away from a disciplined Glos attack. Jack Studley (1-20) (Winterbourne) removed the dangerous Walker – stumped down the legside by Brooks – to make it 54-4 before debutant Kamil Sahabadeen (Chepstow) took his first wicket to make it 69-5. The legspinner showed great control in a spell of 2-28 from 10 overs as Glos kept their opponents in check. Anything above 150 looked likely to be a good score and on 112-6 the innings was very much in the balance. But Glos tipped it their way with three wickets for three runs including two for Toby Rice (2-25) (Lodway). However the game then turned back Devon’s way with a superb last wicket stand of 36 which was only ended by a Brook run out.
Chasing 149 to win Glos made a patient start through Brooks (30) and Irfan (15) who added 63 for the first wicket – aided by a generous extras column. When both players fell in quick succession it Glos struggled to build another partnership. When Sahabadeen joined Brook at the crease the home side had slipped to 91-5 and the momentum was with the visitors. But the pair dug in with a watchful, determined partnership which yielded a vital 35 runs before Brook fell for 24. When Sahabadeen (16) was also dismissed four runs later the game appeared to be back in Devon’s hands. However some gutsy batting from the Glos lower order ensured that they reached their target with 10 balls remaining as Studley struck the winning runs.
After the low-scoring game with Devon, Glos returned to their prolific ways against Dorset. Brooks and Ahmed helped their side recover from 14-2 with an excellent partnership of 167. Facing persistent bowling on a tricky pitch, both players had to dig in, while still remaining positive enough to put the bad ball away when it came. Ahmed fell for 73 from 97 balls but Brooks (pictured with Ollie McConkey) battled on to reach his second century in three matches. His unbeaten 106 from 152 balls was a study in concentration and resilience as he carried his bat in a team total of 255-4.
In reply Glos got an early breakthrough through Syed but had to remain patient as Dorset recovered well. Glos were unable to take another wicket with the new ball but the home side were kept in check by an impressive opening spell of 6 overs for just 7 runs from Tabraiz.
The Dorset batters looked increasingly comfortable at the crease and added 85 for the second wicket before Glos’ sixth bowler Sahabadeen made the breakthrough. This did little slow the home side’s momentum and it wasn’t until Rice removed Elviss for 83 that Glos got a hold back on the game.
At the other end, the impressive Sahabadeen maintained control and chipped away with regular wickets to finish with 4-32 as Dorset slipped to 176-6. At this point they needed seven an over and despite some entertaining late cameos they finished 30 runs short as the returning Tabraiz (2-21) helped wrap up the win.
Glos face Somerset and unbeaten Hampshire in their final two matches, knowing that victories will guarantee them a share of first place in their ECB group.