Saffron Walden chase County Ground double as youngsters impress

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 August 2019

Stanley Leech hits out for Saffron Walden (pic Jamie Pluck)

Stanley Leech hits out for Saffron Walden (pic Jamie Pluck)

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Saffron Walden Cricket Club are hoping to land a memorable cup final double at the County Ground over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Youngsters at the club have been busily rewriting the record books this year, with the under-16s reaching the final of the prestigious Trevor Bailey Matchplay competition.

It is their second final in five years, having won the event in 2014, while the under-19s are into the ECB Essex T20 final for the first time.

They beat Oakfield Parkonians in their semi-final last Friday, having lost the toss and been sent into the field.

Kushal Kumar struck with only his second ball, while Nikhil Gorantia claimed four wickets as Parks closed on 98-9.

Walden set about their run chase with intent and secured a seven-wicket win with two overs to spare to the delight of manager Jon Buck.

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He said: "Walden controlled this match from the moment the Parks opener was bowled second ball. The team has worked together and won some tough matches to reach the final, a fantastic achievement."

The under-16s eased past Upminster in their semi-final and manager Darren Leech said: "We have used over 20 different academy players throughout the group and knockout stage games of this competition. They have ranged from 13 to 16 and played some super cricket.

"We have beaten under-16 teams from clubs across Essex that have always been very strong and each Walden player has played their part in the team's progress to the final. The town should be very proud of its young cricketers."

The under-16s play their final first on Sunday, with the under-19s in action on Monday and both matches start at midday, with supporters welcome.

Chairman David Barrs added: "This is tribute to the commitment shown by our young Academy players and the time given by our volunteer coaches and managers as well as, of course, our parents.

"Having set the junior section up in 2005, this success is a vindication of the structure we have in place and the whole club is enormously proud of these youngsters."

As for their Matchplay win in 2014, Barrs added: "The 12 players in the squad in 2014 are nearly all still playing cricket - seven in the East Anglian Premier League and three in other local teams.

"This current generation of youngsters will go on to strengthen not only our senior teams but also other local teams."

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