The 3rd XI would guarantee themselves promotion with a win in the home game against Stevenage V’s in the penultimate match of the season. 3s skipper Phil Smith won the toss and chose to bowl, as 10 wickets would also provide enough points to secure promotion.
In the reverse fixture, one Stevenage opener got his side off to a fast start by slapping every full ball straight over the bowlers for boundaries. Here, Stevenage got off to a slow start, due to great opening spells from Karan Gupta and Tommy Smith, the latter bowling the dangerous opener in the 2nd over. Stevenage got to 30-1 after 12 overs, at which point the opening bowlers were backed up by even better spells from Sam Hare and Andrew Godfrey. There were countless play and misses off Sam, who found great away swing, but Godders picked up the wickets, trapping both the No.1 and No.3 batsman LBW. The female No.4 bat was brutally run out by her teammate, who called for a run after hitting the ball straight to Karan Gupta. Even with a poor throw she was run out, barely making it halfway down the wicket. Another scalp for Godders made the score 61-5 after 26 overs.
Stevenage struggled to build a partnership as wickets were falling regularly. The visiting captain came to the crease to try and get his side to a respectable score. He managed a partnership of 28 before the No.7 was caught and bowled by Sachin Malkin, making his debut for the 3s. With the captain still in at 96-7 after 33 overs, a score of 130+ was definitely possible. Tommy Smith came back on to bowl to stop that happening and took 2 more wickets, including the captain. The 3s hoped to bowl Stevenage out for around 100 but a decent 20 run partnership for the 10th wicket brought their final score to 116. All the bowlers performed well to give the 3s a great chance of winning the game. The 10 points secured for 10 wickets taken were enough to secure promotion, so the pressure was already off to some degree but the focus was now on winning the last two matches and trying to be Champions.
After fielding in glorious sunshine, Phil Smith and Dan Penny opened the batting in wet and overcast conditions. The skipper was not able to provide the usual solid start and both openers fell cheaply, leaving the score at a precarious 9-2 after 6 overs. Karan Chand and Sanket Shah came to the crease, knowing they would need to score the bulk of the 108 runs still required. They batted slowly and sensibly until drinks to get the score to 43-2 after 20 overs. Having seen off the main threats in the Stevenage attack they earned the right to cut loose and began to score much more freely. Karan and Sanket chased the remaining 74 runs in just 11 overs, without losing their wickets. Both batsmen played very well and shared a 110 run partnership, with Karan ending on 63 not out.
Great bowling and an excellent 3rd wicket partnership secured the 12th win of the season from 15 played matches for the 3rd XI. This guarantees promotion for next season where we will be saying goodbye to the Regional divisions and moving up to 45 over a side matches. This win sets up a winner-takes-all title decider next week away at Old Haberdashers. A win brings glory, a trophy, some prize money and a double promotion, but it’s mostly about the glory (and singing Championes!) Up the 3s!