Johns leads the way as Calmore Sports clinch maiden Voneus Village Cup title against Alvanley at Lord's
CALMORE Sports returned from the home of cricket as the Voneus Village Cup champions after entering the competition for the first time in their history.
Opener Ben Johns hit a superb unbeaten half-century to steer the Southern Premier League club to a magnificent six-wicket win over Alvanley with seven balls of a rain-trimmed final to spare after entering the largest knockout cricket competition in the UK for the first time.
The left-hander kept his cool to hit 58 not out and guide Calmore to a victory which looked improbable when they required 47 off the last five overs.
But with support from his captain Mark Lavelle – aided by a very costly dropped catch at the critical stage – Johns got Calmore across the line – surprisingly with time to spare.
Chasing 112 off 20 overs after rain washed out three hours of play, Calmore were languishing on 55-4 after 13 overs before a 57-run partnership between opener Johns and Lavelle catapulted the Totton side to victory.
Johns, the player of the match, top-scored for Calmore, finishing unbeaten on 58 from 49 deliveries. He also took a spectacular leaping boundary catch in the first innings to dismiss Stephen Charles for 13.
Calmore looked down and out for much of the second innings, losing Will Brewster and oft dangerman Shawn Johnson to Chris Charles inside three overs. Then two quick stumpings from Simon Gee off the bowling off Ben Tumilty left them 57 runs shy with only seven overs left.
An 18-run over off the bowling of Lee Ainsworth, which included a monster six from the bat of Johns, dragged Calmore back into the match. Then, however, a tidy three-run over from Tumilty turned the tables once again.
But Johns and Lavelle had victory in their sights and smashed 26 runs in 12 balls, including a six apiece and a dropped catch off the second ball of the 18th over, to steer Calmore to their maiden title inside 19 overs.
On his spectacular catch, a modest Johns said: "It's funny watching out the back between innings; it didn't feel anything like that. It looked very good on cameras. It was one them, you go up, and it just sticks. On another day, it could be going down, or it could be going through my hands. But it stuck today, and what a feeling!"
Johns made his debut for Calmore in 2015, aged 15, has not missed a game since. Despite starting the competition with a couple of ducks, he hit half-centuries in the quarters, semis and the final. He added: "It wasn't a great start to the tournament, but the guys helped me out, and once the quarter-final, semi-final and final came about, it all came good.
"I think it's up to about 130 games in a row now. I don't know how it's happened or where the years have gone, but I get to play with 10 of my mates every single week. So for everyone to be here and to get to lift that trophy, it's unbelievable."
Earlier in the day, Calmore had restricted Alvanley to 150 for 7 off 36 overs, with Steve Wright the pick of his side's bowlers. The left-armer opener conceded just five runs from his eight-over spell, including six maidens, and collected the wickets of Alex Reid and Michael Rowlands to leave the Cheshire side 37-2 after 13 overs and lay the platform for a strong performance in the field from Calmore.
Lavelle also impressed with the ball, taking 2 for 26 to become the competition's leading wicket-taker with 17 dismissals in 54 overs. Gee top-scored for Alvanley, posting a gritty 28 from 58 balls, including twin sixes into the Mount Stand off the bowling of Ben Perry.
Ainsworth was also among the runs, scoring a quickfire 26 off 33 balls, while Andy Bennion (15 off 15) and Charlie Fletcher (12 not out off six) threatened an explosive end to Alvanley's innings before the rain came.