Yorkshire’s recent domination of The Cricketer Village Cup continues, with Folkton & Flixton crowned 2018 champions at Lord’s thanks to a dominant display with the ball.
Folkton and Flixton are adjoining villages that lie at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, near Scarborough, and the club brought a sizeable, vocal contingent of fans to the capital. Known as ‘Benidorm Corner’ they cheered and sang as they restricted Hampshire side Liphook & Ripsley, also newcomers to Lord’s, to 126 all out, to win by 72 runs.
The Yorkshiremen were disappointed to lose the toss, as they had chased successfully seven times in this season’s 47th Village Cup, out of the eight rounds they have negotiated.
Lord’s finals in September would not be the same without the ball ‘doing a bit’ early on, and Folkton & Flixton found themselves at 59 for 4. The first two wickets fell to Liphook and Ripsley captain Charles Janczur, and the sight of them will live long in his memory, first middle stump and then leg stump uprooted.
The fourth wicket fell thanks to a stunning catch at gully by Suman Ganguly.
F&F rebuilt with a fine stand of 85 between Matthew Nesfield, who made 60, and Will Hutchinson, who scored 48. Both were strong off the legs. Nesfield is a gamekeeper and Hutchinson is a sixth-former.
Harry Walmsley, a lorry driver who, like Hutchinson is a lifelong club stalwart, gave the innings a rousing finish with 35 off only 17 balls, including a magnificent straight six into the sightscreen in front of the pavilion. Janczur, who bowls off the wrong foot, finished with 2 for 19 from eight, Ganguly took 2 for 37, and the feisty youngster George Neave recorded figures of 3 for 39.
A total of 198 in 40 overs looked about par, but L&R made a rip-roaring start, at eight an over. They seemed to think it was T20, and three wickets for Connor Stephenson gave them a mountain to climb.
Wickets kept tumbling, and at 55 for 4, and 99 for 7 they looked doomed. There was some reckless batting, with nerves no doubt playing a part. There was also some confusion when Harry Munt looked to have been given out stumped, but the square-leg umpire cleared up the confusion by saying he has was pointing that the batsman was in. Munt was reprieved, but perished soon after.
Off-spinner Tom Norman was the stand-out bowler, taking a wicket with each of his first two overs. He then removed danger man Grant Rouse, brother of Kent’s Adam. Throughout he bowled with wonderful flight and accuracy, finishing with 3 for 18.
He had also been a hero in the semi-final, scoring 47. Richard Malthouse also bowled tidily, taking 1 for 18 in his eight overs.
About 300 sides from 32 regions all over the British Isles entered the Village Cup, organised and run by The Cricketer magazine since the competition’s inception in 1972.
Although Sessay lost the final last year, they won in 2016, and the two years before that were won by Woodhouse Grange, who have won the Village Cup a record four times. No wonder ‘Benidorm Corner’ chanted ‘Yorkshire! Yorkshire! as they celebrated in the September sunshine.
Will Norman said: “We desperately wanted to bowl first, and at 59 for 4 we were a bit nervous. Matthew and Will rescued us. My brother Tom bowled beautifully. In big games he stands up. The more pressure you put on, the better he bowls. We are a small village but because our ground is so good we can attract players. In April I didn’t think we’d make this. I started daring to dream in the last-16 tie when we knocked off 270 against Broadbottom, nine down, the last-wicket pair putting on 40.”
Asked why Yorkshire do so well in this competition, he said: “Cricket’s in Yorkshiremen’s blood, we just love it.”
Janczur: “We started really well, we kept the run-rate down. I didn’t want them to get above 180, but their fifth-wicket boys got stuck down, which is something we didn’t do. We were content at half-time. We expected to chase that. No offence to them but we probably faced better attacks in the quarter and semi-finals, but they held their nerve and the pressure on the day got to our batsmen. It has been an unbelievable day, though, and we have the incentive to come back next year.”