TO celebrate England’s hosting of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, more than 80 senior and junior members of Lymington Cricket Club undertook their own world cup-themed tournament at the Sports Ground.
Players ranged from 71-year-old Paul Versey to five-year-old Jake Courtney. Participants were allocated to one of the ten competing World Cup nations.
Matches were played on four pitches around the Sports Ground outfield and consisted of six overs per side with batsmen losing five runs if dismissed.
Fittingly, the South Africa and New Zealand sides were well represented by players hailing from those countries, including Lymington’s current South African star Gareth Schreuder, while Sri Lanka were proudly captained by one of their own, Damian Jayasinghe.
Although none of the Afghanistan team could claim any connections to that part of the world, there were comparisons with the way they played exciting, expansive cricket, and with huge smiles on their faces.
Containing five members of the Sansom family, Afghanistan overcame all the odds to reach the final despite suffering a thrashing to the host nation in an early group match and only progressing past the group stage via a dramatic bowl-off victory over the favourites Bangladesh.
Afghanistan’s opponents in the final, India, cruised through their group with ease, defeating New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia and the West Indies.
The side contained three Under 11 juniors — Toby Etheridge, Archie Collins and Ben Rayner, and were marshalled by the experienced Ed Freeman who led by example with bat and ball.
India also included the young first team player Josh Royan and the hard-hitting Marc Rayner, making them clear favourites to lift the trophy.
However, batting first in the finale, India were restricted to a below-par total of 53. The highlight of the innings an excellent catch by Under 13 junior Luke May. Some tight Indian bowling kept the match on a knife-edge as Afghanistan’s run chase faltered.
The fourth over would prove to be decisive as the Afghan skipper Richard Sansom slogged four giant sixes off the unfortunate Freeman. This left Dan Paxton and Nell Sansom needing to see out the final two overs to win the match and the trophy.
Paxton added to the tension by getting dismissed courtesy of Royan’s superb return catch in the final over. But the game was all but won and the jubilant Afghanistan team members stormed on to the pitch at the end to celebrate an unexpected victory.
With the real Queen otherwise engaged on official business the task of presenting the World Cup was given to the unofficial Queen of Pilley, Mrs Gladys Phillips, who presented the Afghan team with their medals and trophy.