THE New Forest U16 cricket side have been crowned Hampshire U16 indoor cricket league champions at the Ageas Bowl.
The Forest youngsters came through tough tests against excellent South Wilts and Havant sides to deservedly take the title on finals night last week.
Forest started the evening with a four-wicket semi-final victory against South Wilts followed by a two wicket win in the final against Havant.
The final four
In the semi-final, South Wilts were restricted to 115-3 in the face of miserly bowling. The highlights were a sharp catch from Sam Presland off the bowling of Toby Mills (1-12), a clever run out from Joshua Royan and a sharp stumping by Jack Harris off a Joshua Bailey ball that turned.
In reply, Forest posted 116-2. The competition’s leading run scorer Royan hit 26 undefeated runs and the powerful Daniel Bailey scored 20.
Joshua Bailey grabbed 13 runs before Sam Presland (24 no) and Toby Mills (21 no) played with impressive freedom in a match-winning partnership.
The county finale
In the final, Forest faced Havant, the only team to register a victory against them this season.
Havant elected to bat but wickets fell early thanks to sharp reactions from Harris and a superb direct throw from Royan, buttressed by Joshua Bailey (1-22). At 36-3, Havant looked in trouble but rallied to a modest 112-3.
In response New Forest opened positively, with Royan (26 no) again retiring and J. Bailey (19), D. Bailey (8), Presland (22) and Mills (11) leaving New Forest at 102-4.
Jack Harris (9 no) then came to the crease for the first time in the evening with the returning Royan.
If there were any nerves Harris made light of them bringing up victory (115-4) with a glorious straight six in the penultimate over and bringing the title back to the New Forest.
So the junior indoor cricketing odyssey of this group of players, who first came together as New Forest District U10s from three local clubs, Bashley, Lymington and Sway, has come to a fitting finale as county champions.
As U11s they formed an indoor team and have since chalked up four age group league wins in the Dorset Indoor Cricket League and now both cup and league victories in the Hampshire U16 competitions at the Ageas Bowl.
New Forest U16s: Back row: Daniel Bailey, Joshua Royan, Joshua Bailey. Front row: Sam Presland, Jack Harris, Toby Mills