Pitcher leads St David’s to promised land
Sea Breeze Oval (St David's won toss): St David's beat Cleveland by one wicket
St David's reclaimed the Eastern Counties trophy they lost to Cleveland in 2014, when they beat the champions in probably the most dramatic match of the season on Saturday.
Saturday's match at Sea Breeze Oval was one of the most thrilling in the competition for several years, going right down to the wire with both teams' fans preparing to run onto the field to celebrate victory.
Chasing what they thought was a modest 146 for victory, St David's were in deep trouble at 61 for eight after losing four wickets for just ten runs. Somehow tail-enders Justin Pitcher, Rudell Pitcher and Cejay Outerbridge snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with two last wicket stands of 54 and 36.
Rudell Pitcher was the hero of the piece with an unbeaten 54 off 82 balls after defying the Cleveland bowlers for more than two hours.
It was fitting that Pitcher would score the winning runs when, with the scores tied, he smashed Mackih McGowan for six over long-on on the first ball of his third over to reach his fifty and cause scenes of celebrations among the St David's fans.
He stood defiant when wickets kept falling around him, including that of Delyone Borden who was eighth out for 25, with St David's on 61.
Pitcher's half-century, which included five fours and three sixes was his best knock of the season, and best score in the Eastern Counties earning him the man of the match award. Outerbridge, meanwhile, received accolades of his own after earlier taking his first five-wicket haul in the competition, finishing with impressive figures of five for 22 from 13 overs.
The mood among the St David's players suggested they had resigned themselves to defeat, but Rudell Pitcher and Justin Pitcher slowly brightened things up during a match-saving ninth wicket stand of 54, of which the latter contributed 21 before he was caught low at slip by Jason Simons.
Still, the victory that St David's wanted to dedicate to Fiqre Crockwell, their late team-mate, seemed a long way away, with the last pair at the wicket and 31 runs still needed.
Rudell Pitcher kept his calm, kept talking to Outerbridge and in 58 minutes together they pulled down the runs, with Pitcher smashing boundaries to ease the pressure, and even allowing Outerbridge more of the strike as the youngster showed himself to be up to the task in only his second county appearance.
Outerbridge played no small part in the last wicket stand, facing 58 balls for his most important four runs of the season.
Justin Pitcher shone with the ball too and claimed three for 43 as he and Outerbridge had Cleveland in deep, early trouble at 20 for four by the twelfth over.
However, Dion Stovell and Keishon Smith, the colt, shared in a match-changing fifth-wicket stand of 73.
The pair took the score to 93 as Cleveland reached lunch at 109 for five, before a rare, rash stroke by Stovell on only the second ball after the interval saw him bowled by Justin Pitcher, to end a knock of 64 off 68 balls in 101 minutes. He hit three fours and three sixes.
Wickets fell quickly after that as St David's wrapped up the tail to set themselves a target of 146 for victory in 69 overs, little more than two runs an over.
However, Stovell and company made it interesting as Cleveland refused to concede victory without a fight. They claimed the first wicket of Chris Foggo in the fifth over, and then got two more the next over from Stovell, who shared the new ball with Damali Bell.
Chris Douglas went first, trapped leg-before, and then Ankoma Cannonier was run out after going for a risky single from the bowler's end, and being sent back by Macai Simmons. Cannonier's bat was in the air as he scrambled to get back in his crease.
In the eighth over St David's lost colt Simmons, also leg-before to Stovell, and by that stage had collapsed to 16 for four.
A fifth wicket stand of 35 between Borden and Lionel Cann gave St David's some hope, before three wickets went down in the three overs to put another, interesting twist on the match as fans remained in their seats, awaiting the final twist in the match.
Stovell was also the pick of the Cleveland bowlers with four for 25 in 12 overs, while Dennis Musson, the Cleveland captain, kept it tight in the middle innings with a good spell before finishing with three for 19 off 15 overs with six maidens.
†A Burrows b J Pitcher 6
S Douglas Jr c J Pitcher b Outerbridge 5
J Simons b J Pitcher 0
K Smith b O’Brien 16
C Jackson b Outerbridge 6
D Stovell b J Pitcher 64
D Bell lbw b Outerbridge 17
C Darrell c wk Foggo b Outerbridge 17
*D Musson b Borden 0
H Durham not out 0
M McGowan c O’Brien b Outerbridge 0
Extras (5b, 4lb) 9
Total (all out, 49 overs) 145
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-10, 3-12, 4-20, 5-93, 6-111, 7-144, 8-145, 9-145.
Bowling: J Pitcher 14-2-43-3; Outerbridge 13-3-22-5; R Pitcher 3-1-18-0; O’Brien 10-3-24-1; Borden 9-1-29-1.
†C Foggo c Musson b Bell 5 5
A Cannonier run out 0
C Douglas lbw b Stovell 1
M Simmons lbw b Stovell 6
D Borden c and b Musson 25
L Cann c Smith b Musson 9
*G O’Brien c Stovell b Musson 1
S Rayner c Douglas b Durham 1
J Pitcher c Simons b Stovell 21
R Pitcher not out 54
C Outerbridge not out 4
Extras (10b, 6lb, 2w, 5nb) 24
Total (9 wickets, 52.1 overs) 151
Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-10, 3-10, 4-16, 5-51, 6-60, 7-61, 8-61, 9-115.
Bowling: Bell 11-2-52-1; Stovell 12-4-25-4; Durham 9-2-27-0; Musson 15-6-19-3; Darrell 3-0-6-0; McGowan 2.1-2-6-0.
Umpires: M Best, E Carrington.
Final: August 27 — St David’s v Bailey’s Bay, Sea Breeze Oval.