Calmore Sports pulled off the most unlikely of victories to move into the semi-finals of the Southern Premier League T20 Plate when they downed Premier Division side Hampshire Academy in a Super Over on an incredible afternoon at Loperwood Park.
For 95% of this match, the visitors, featuring two contracted players on the county staff and the cream of the crop of local cricket, had this match in the bag after restricting Calmore, who won the toss and elected to bat first, to a meagre 76 for 8 in their 20 overs and then breezed with ease to 54-2, requiring just 22 to win with eight wickets in hand.
It was a procession, the highly fancied and hugely talented Hampshire youngsters making their way serenely into the last four.
What followed in the final 47 balls of the Academy innings will live long in the memory of everyone on the field and in the packed crowd that sat and stood astounded at what was taking place.
After Mike West had already removed the openers George Pardoe and captain Felix Organ and Mark Lavelle had bowled a good four over spell without any luck, George Langston and Fletcha Middleton settled in to see their team home and they were doing it at a canter.
Step forward Paul Proudley.
The Calmore veteran, entrusted with the ball despite going around the park in five overs the day previously at Portsmouth, produced the spell of a lifetime to get through the defence of Langston with just 22 runs needed.
He was quickly followed by Tom South, caught and bowled by skipper Jimmy Manning and then, in Pra’s third over, ripped through Middleton and then Tom Scriven, ruining their middle stumps – in fact breaking it in Scriven’s case – to collect figures of 3 for 8 in 15 balls and sink the County Youth to 63-6.
As if the drama of taking three wickets was not enough, as Proudley roared in to the new batsman, he pulled up with a torn hamstring and was unable to continue, receiving a rousing ovation as limped from the field to be replaced by sub Jack Austin.
Keeper George Metzger and Jamie Regan milked their way to a stand of 11 and were putting any fears of a shock to bed.
But, with just two runs needed and still four wickets in hand, the Academy side hit the self-destruct button with some of the craziest, mindless cricket, coupled with some superb fielding and skillful bowling from the empassioned Calmore side.
Ben Perry’s inspired spell of bowling saw Regan smash the ball to Moss at mid on and Ajeet Dale pushed two balls defensively back from Manning before deciding to crash the third down Moss’ throat on the fence when looking for the big shot to win the game to reduce the visitors to 74-8.
Surely it still couldn’t happen! Two runs from Abbas off Manning sent the scores level before Perry trapped the dangerous Scriven lbw and former Calmore all-rounder and now Academy coach Charlie Freeston went the same way the next ball to end the innings and set up Calmore’s first ever Super Over contest.
The Academy batted first and Mike West was given the honour of bowling and what an over it was! A single of the first ball, then a dot was followed by a good catch for Moss to remove Organ. Two singles from the next two balls were all that was achieved before Pardoe skied the ball down to long off where Moss took a superb catch – his fourth in three overs!
Just 3 runs scored for two wickets.
Needing just four to win, Calmore scampered a leg bye off the first ball and received a gift off the second when Lavelle’s under edge for a single turned into two thanks to an overthrow. Fourth ball of the Super Over reply and Lav tickled another leg bye to set off unprecedented scenes of celebration – which never looked likely half an hour previously.
So, it was Calmore Sports that made their way into the last four – somehow! And they are there with Paultons, Sparsholt and Old Tauntonians and Romsey left in the hat. After today’s events, the semi-final will take some living up to!!!