Holders Cleveland settle for draw
Lords (Cleveland won toss): Match drawn.
Cleveland made certain of starting another Eastern Counties series as champions after Saturday's final against St David's ended in a tame draw when the holders declined to chase the target set by the challengers St David's.
St David's made a bold declaration at the fall of their seventh wicket at 237 from 56.3 overs, even giving the champions an additional seven overs (60 in total) to score at four runs an over for victory. Cleveland never took up the challenge, scoring at less than three runs an over for most of their innings before reaching 142 for six from 58 overs at the close to ensure they will begin the 2016 series at Sea Breeze Oval as champions again.
OJ Pitcher, the St David's captain, was named Man of the Match for his knock of 92 from 121 balls which contained twelve fours and one six. He and Shea Pitcher (50 from 77 balls) shared in a stand of 124 which carried the score from 62 for three to 186 for four when Pitcher departed in the 49th over.
OJ Pitcher was dismissed three overs later when Dion Stovell held a high catch on the long-on boundary to deny the St David's captain his second century in the counties. Rudell Pitcher (25) and George O'Brien (17 not out) produced some fireworks late in the innings as St David's set their sights on a declaration.
Pitcher hit two fours and two sixes and O'Brien two sixes, with the challengers declaring when Pitcher was caught by Adrian Burrows at long-off.
Dennis Musson, captaining the team on his return from a one-match ban, claimed two for 48 while Dion Stovell had two for 46 to lead the Cleveland bowling .
If the crowd was inticipating an interesting run chase it never materialised as Cleveland dug their heels in from the start. The loss of opener Burrows in the eighth over when the score was 21 gave St David's some early hope but a second wicket stand of 55 in 23 overs between Mishael Paynter and Aaron Adams in 87 minutes showed Cleveland's intentions as they frustrated their opponents.
Paynter scored 35 from 87 balls in 117 minutes and veteran Adams, playing in what is very likely to be his last counties match, 22 in two hours from 83 balls. the partnership was finally broken when Paynter mis-hit a straight drive and skied to mid-off where Chris Douglas held the catch.
Jason Anderson's stay was short, facing only a couple of balls, before he was bowled by one that turned and stayed low from Delyone Borden. Suddenly there was something to play for as Adams went the next over when, after an appeal for a catch at short leg by O'Brien was turned down by umpire Roger Dill, Adams stepped out of his crease and the alert O'Brien ran in to flick off the bails.
When Clay Darrell departed in the 41st over at 106 for six after hitting out to midwicket where Justin Pitcher held the catch, St David's were left to take five wickets in the last 45 minutes. They used ten bowlers in total trying to get another breakthrough but Stovell (29) and Damali bell (15) put up the shutters with an unbroken stand of 36 for the seventh wicket to make certain of the draw.
Chris Douglas was the most successful of the St David's bowlers, taking two for 32 off eight overs, including bowling Treadwell Gibbons with a shot delivery that stayed low and then enticing Darrell into the rash stroke with his team still in some trouble.
Of the 58 overs faced by Cleveland, there were 21 maidens, including six from O'Brien in 10.5 overs, an indication of Cleveland's lack of interest in going for the runs.
In the post match presentation, Stovell was named the Spinner of the Series, a trophy put up for late Bailey's Bay spin bowler Stan Smith. Stovell took five wickets in the series from 36 overs. Team-mate Jason Anderson was the Player of the Series with 102 runs, four catches and two stumpings.
The draw for the 2016 series will see Cleveland begin the defence of their title against Flatts in the first round, before the winners meet St David's in the second round. Hosts Bailey's Bay will play in the final.
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