It was the most incredible day.  It rained, of course it rained – it wouldn’t be a Calmore Sports National Village Cup match if it didn’t!

But Calmore Sports Club came away from the Home of Cricket, the world famous Lord’s Cricket Ground, CHAMPIONS of the 50th anniversary Voneus Broadband National Village Cup in our inaugural season in the competition, beating Cheshire-based Alvanley by six wickets under the DLS method.

And our success was down to two of the most outstanding performances from two players, one with the ball and the other with the bat.

Calmore skipper Mark Lavelle won a rare toss and elected to field first, mindful of the threat of rain that may come in later in the afternoon.  And he immediately threw the ball to his trusty left-armer Steve Wright, who had always wanted to bowl from the Pavilion End at Lord’s.  That dream was realised.

What he surely could never have envisaged was to deliver 49 balls across his eight overs straight and record 47 of them as ‘dots’ – the only runs conceded were a no-ball for kicking the stumps at the end of his first over and an inside edge for four to the short Mound Stand boundary at the start of his fourth.  He would also remove both openers – the first Alex Reid getting a leading edge and being safely caught by Mike West for 16 and then skipper Michael Rowlands saw his off stump knocked back as he went to leave one that nipped back up the hill for 18.

Eight overs, SIX maidens, 2 for 5 – the best bowling figures from a completed spell since Shipton-under-Wychwood’s Shaun Miller bowled 9-4-6-0 against Astwood Bank in the 2003 Final.  Steve, unsurprisingly, won the ‘most maidens’ honour in the competition … by NINE!  64 overs, 22 maidens, 9 for 132 and an economy rate of 2.06 – remarkable!!

The tone was set for the innings.  While Mike West, who was struggling with his knees, went at a run-a-ball, Lavelle continued to strangle the Alvanley batsmen.  Ben Perry conceded a couple of sixes to the short side but got his reward in the most spectacular of fashion.  Stephen Charles flicked one of his legs, only to find Ben Johns on the fence, leaping high to take a stunning catch right in front of the Calmore supporters.  WATCH BEN’s INCREDIBLE CATCH HERE

Dangerous wicket-keeper batsman Simon Gee, who had rather struggled to 28 off 58 balls but had hit Perry for those two sixes, then tried his luck in the next over to the longer Grandstand side off Lavelle only to discover it was a much bigger hit and Perry was there to take the simple chance.

It was the first of two wickets for the captain – who would finish top of the competitions wicket-takers tally with 17 – and had bowled nicely for his 2-26 off six.  But while Alvanley were mounting a charge through Andy Bennion (15 off 15) and Charlie Fletcher (12* off 6), Calmore were always in the ascendancy, especially when Bennion tried one big hit too many and skied a caught and bowled back to Lavelle, Lee Ainsworth gifted West a second catch in Shawn Johnson’s sole over and then Chris Wright ran himself out next ball.

With four overs remaining and Alvanley 150-7, the forecast rains came to cut their innings short and leave everyone hoping it would ease sufficiently for play to restart so the game could be played to a natural, cricketing conclusion rather than a bowl-out in the Indoor School.

Three hours came and went and the only cricket being played was by the future Calmore and Alvanley youngsters playing underneath the stands in the dry.  It was a joy to see.

The rain eased and the groundstaff mopped up – the great advantage of the remarkable Lord’s drainage is that it didn’t take long and play was able to recommence at 4pm with Calmore set a testing 112 off 20 overs under Duckworth/Lewis/Stern.  Given our record in T20 cricket, it was always likely to be a stiff ask, particularly with there not being the regular T20 fielding restrictions in place either.

And so it proved as semi-final hero Will Brewster fished at a wide Chris Charles delivery and edged to the keeper in the first over and then the dangerous Shawn Johnson received an outstanding inswinger from the same bowler in his next to see him sent back for just 1.  At 10-2, Calmore hopes were already on the wain.

Matt Taylor steadied the ship alongside Ben Johns with a stand of 35, both nudging and nurdling their way to calmer waters.  However, the introduction of left-arm spinner Ben Tumilty would entice both Taylor and Jimmy Manning out of the creases and suffer the same fate, being stumped by Gee within ten runs of each other – Taylor gone for 16 and Manning 4.

However, it was always felt that while Johns was still at the crease, Calmore were in with a chance and he received outstanding support from the well over 1,000 strong following and his captain at the other end.  Even when the rate climbed above nine an over, Johns continued to pick off the singles, take the runs on offer.

The game swung firmly in Calmore’s direction in the 16th over when Ainsworth’s over was clattered for 18 runs including a magnificent pull from Johns into the Calmore supporters for six.  It eased the nerves although the tension was still palpable.

Tumilty’s next over went for just three singles and Calmore needed 27 from three overs.

The job should have been much harder for the green and whites when Alvanley skipper Rowlands brought himself on and his second delivery was top edged by Lavelle’s sweep.  An easy catch for the fielder on the legside 45 – but down it went!  A key moment in the game as the next four balls after the drop went 3 . 4 (Lavelle’s 4) and then 6 (Lavelle’s 6).  14 off the over and down to a run-a-ball in the final two.

Johns would bring up his 50 with a flick of his legs, coming up in just 46 balls (Ben brings up his 50) and then brings the crowd to euphoria with a leading edge six into the stands.  A wide, a two and then another wide … and it’s all over!  WINNING MOMENT.  Calmore Sports win by six wickets with seven balls to spare.  Johns finishes on 58 not out from 49 and Lavelle a key 15 from 16.

St John’s Wood becomes Ben Johns Wood!  He is crowned man of the match for his sensational innings, only narrowly piping Steve Wright to the gong.

Calmore Sports Club become just the third Hampshire club to lift this prestigious trophy after Longparish in 1987 and Hursley Park in 1992.  For this team, this squad, this club, it means the world.  Many of these players have played together since school, most of them have a long-standing Calmore connection or now call Calmore their firm home.  They are mates through and through, enjoy every moment with each other, the key to their success.

107 years this club has been in existence.  There was barely a dry eye in the house on Sunday evening and many a sore head on Monday morning.  For everyone, but everyone, who has been a part of this journey, thank you!  For everyone who has been a part of Calmore Sports Club for the last 107 years, thank you as those 13 men, the XI on the park and two key members of the squad as 12th men, wouldn’t have been there without you.

And to those 1,000 plus people in the stands – Calmore old and new, Calmore past, present and future – what an incredible day.  Sunday 19th September 2021 will be a day etched forever in Calmore folklore.

Forever ‘More!