The first NatWest Club U19 t20 game for the Cougars this year was away at the Linden Oval where Totton Tigers were the hosts.  With only nine players there for the start, captain Matt Taylor luckily won the toss and decided to bat.  This year’s Cougars side was fresh faced with three debutants – Ollie Dennett, Calum Bailey and 13-year-old Max Bailey.

Calmore got away to a good start with Taylor (batting on one leg, chocolate knee) and Johns racing to 29-0 after three overs before Taylor was caught at mid-off for 24.  Johns continued to score freely and was joined by Lomax who played the supporting role, feeding Johns the strike before he fell for 9, despite a textbook on drive for four, leaving the ‘more poised at 65-2 after 10.

This soon became 103 for 5 after 15, with Johns retiring for a very well made 51 off 36 balls.  Three wickets in quick succession left Calmore struggling at 113 for 7 (1 retirement and we only still had 9 players).  This left the two Bailey brothers on debut who, despite being dropped several times, managed to guide our score up to 136-7 after our 20 overs.  Cal Bailey finished with 21* and young Max 9* with a glorious hit over midwicket for 4.

Tensions were high in the Calmore camp, with the lads fired up and raring to go.  Luckily, just in time Kaine Stanton decided to rock up from Germany to join us and Lewis Bridle finally got away from work, meaning Calmore had 11 going into field to defend 136.

Captain Taylor said to the lads before they went out, to keep extras low and this went out the window first ball!  Lomax wide ball, which stand in keeper Kaine Stanton completely missed.  The ball flew into his helmet on the edge of the ring and trickled for 4.  10-0 after zero legal deliveries, top start lads.  Morgan from the other end picked up an early scalp of Darney without scoring caught by Taylor at slip.

Lomax and Morgan bowled well in tandem and Morgan soon picked up his second after dangerman Perrin, who had already hit the biggest six of the day, skied a high ball for the returning Cal Kitcher to gobble up at long on.  Welcome back Kitch.

This left Totton reeling for 36-2 after 6.  The spin twins of Kitcher and Johns bowled well, with Kitch picking a run out of his own bowling flicking onto the stumps, to dismiss Bound for 23.  Johns, who picked up a side strain, was replaced by Dennett who bowled well for 3 overs conceding just 18.

E. Taylor and Mainsbridge built a partnership for Totton, with a couple of chances going down from the ‘more, with Taylor soon retiring for a well made 50 for the home side.  This left Totton at 125-4 off 17 overs, with a nervy finish looming.  Cal Bailey bowled the 18th and showed great control to only go for four.

This left Totton needing 12 from 12 balls.  Lomax returned for the penultimate over and picked up the crucial wicket of Mainsbridge and another while only going for four.

Needing eight to win off the last over. Morgan was trusted to bowl and duly delivered.  Bowling yorker after yorker, Totton scored a single and a two of the first two balls.  Third ball, they tried to turn for two, Kitcher with the arm and Morgan whipped the bails off for a run out. Two singles followed, leaving two to win and one for the tie.

With a nervous wait, while trying to sort the field out, Morgan delivered and bowled a cracking third yorker of the over which went through to keeper Kaine who took his first clean take of the game, but had the presence of mind to run up to the stumps, as the batsmen hadn’t moved but the non-striker had run down for the single.  Kaine then ran down to the bowlers end and smashed the ball into the stumps for a run out, and a Calmore win by just 1 run, to spark jubilant celebratory scenes from the lads.

An absolute spectacle of a cricket game with a nerve-racking finish, but it was Calmore who held their nerve to claim their first win.  The boys showed great determination and played with magnificent cricketing etiquette and spirit.

Fear the ‘more!!!