Calmore Sports are into the quarter-finals of the Voneus National Village Cup following a nerve-jangling, nail-biting thriller at Loperwood Park that saw us defeat much fancied Goatacre by losing fewer wickets with the scores tied.

It took a scampered single by skipper Mark Lavelle off the final ball to secure the tie and put Calmore through after Goatacre were bowled out for 133 after being inserted at the toss and Calmore were eight wickets down at the end.

We will host either Rockhampton or Ynystawe on Sunday 18 July in the last eight – their game in Gloucestershire falling foul of the weather today.  They will try again next Sunday.

But what a game it was as the bumper crowd were kept on the edges of their socially distanced seats as Calmore, at one point cruising to victory at 92-1 in the 27th over, needing just 42 more to win in 13 overs, hit the buffers after an untimely rain break that allowed the Wiltshire-based two-time former champions firmly back into the contest.

Goatacre were put into bat on the damp surface after some heavy overnight rain and Calmore soon went about their business, removing the dangerous Jack Haines for just 11 at the beginning of the fourth over.  The wickets continued to tumble as the visiting batsmen struggled to get the ball away from the impeccable Steve Wright, who once again produced remarkable figures of 8-4-10-1 – it is no surprise that he holds the record for most maidens in the competition this season.

With Mark Lavelle (8-3-19-3) and Mike West (2-23), the visitors crumbled to 86-8 as Calmore’s fielding more than backed up the bowling – Jimmy Manning’s catch to send Peter Turner back to the pavilion without scoring off Steve Wright was simply outstanding and set the tone throughout.  Shawn Johnson took 4-40, including removing the obdurate Jack Twine for a 68-ball 20.

Some late order hitting from Ewen Kenny at number nine, crashing two sixes and four fours in a 24-ball unbeaten 36 lifted their spirits but they knew 133 all out was well below par on a good Loperwood surface.

They were boosted when Will Brewster fell in the first over of the reply but Ben Johns and Matt Taylor batted sensibly, steadily and without alarm in putting together a stand of 90 for the second wicket.  At 92-1, the game was in the bag.  And then the rain came to break the momentum.

On the resumption, Johns was run out, Shawn Johnson was removed for just one and 92-1 became 99-4, 104-5 and 109-6 and then, with three overs remaining, 120-8 as the in-form Matt Taylor was finally prized out for an excellent 45 and was followed by Ben Perry next ball.

The pressure was building.  Goatacre threw everything at Calmore, seemingly appealing every ball and getting little in the way of a response from the officials, who remained composed in the face of some unsavory scenes from the visitors especially as Haines’ 38th over of the innings contained FOUR wides, gifts in the circumstances, as they threw down 16 in total across the innings.  It certainly helped the Calmore cause – but all of them were.

It came down to seven needed from the last two overs and four from the last.  The crowd, from both sides, gripped, nervous, anxious, engaged.

Lavelle took charge.  He faced 10 of the remaining twelve deliveries, taking three runs off Wilkins’ last over, the 39th.  Haines returned for the 40th.  Two dots ramped up the excitement – smashed straight to a fielder off Lavelle’s bat.  A bye off the third and a nudge from West for a single off the fourth.  Another dot off the fifth.  Two to win outright but one to secure the tie to win on wickets lost.  Goatacre crowded around, saving the single.  Pressure unimaginable.  Lavelle found a gap, he and West charged to their respective ends to secure the single and set off wild celebrations as Calmore Sports booked their place in the last eight whilst springing an almighty shock upon the WEPL Division 2 leaders.

As New Zealander Ian Smith said at the end of the epic World Cup Final of 2019 – “by the barest of margins, by the barest of all margins”.

The captain couldn’t contain his excitement.  “We seem to never do it easy in this competition do we?!  Pressure can sometimes make the mind do funny things but we were always ahead of the game.

“The rain breaks killed us as it had us worrying about run rate, if we hadn’t have needed to worry I think we would probably have got home far more comfortably, but what a day!

“Was delighted to be there at the end after not doing the same at Cookham and the scenes were special!

“I’d like to thank everyone who tirelessly worked around the ground be it the bar, scoring, bbq, pushing covers or the hours Joe, Bourney and Pete put in during the week when the weather threatened to spoil it all.

“Me and the boys really do appreciate all the support we have been given so far and we hope to see even more on the 18th.

“Two to go!”

South Wingfield (Derbyshire) v Clipstone and Bilsthorpe (East Midlands) v Neyland (Dyfed)
Houghton Main (West & South Yorkshire) v Meigle (Scotland) v Alvanley (Cheshire & Clwyd) v Folkton and Flixton (North Yorkshire North)
CALMORE SPORTS (Hampshire) v Rockhampton (Gloucestershire) or Ynystawe (Glamorgan)
Foxton (Cambridgeshire and Norfolk) v West Chiltington and Thakeham (West Sussex) v Stoke Green (Buckinghamshire)