Heartwarming effort from our cricket youths

Borders U-14s cricket.
Borders U-14s cricket.

IN A season of frustrations, mainly down to the weather, there was a particularly warming highlight during the now annual Eastern Region Inter-area Championships.

Well, warming if you were a Borderer that is.

Since the introduction of the Inter Area Championships at Under-13s and Under-15s in 2008 (and Under-17s in 2010) Borders teams have won five out of the 10 tournaments held.

This is no mean feat, considering the few Borders juniors that go on to represent the Eastern Region or Scotland, as Josh Irvine (Gala), Tom Galbraith (Kelso/Manderston), Kris Mein (Gala), Alec Sim (Manderston) and Richard Taylor (Manderston) have in recent years.

The phrase “punch above our weight” has often been levelled at our teams. But not so in 2011 when the Borders Under-13s won all of their Championship games, quite comfortably too.

And it was the same this year. With the realignment of tournaments to Under-14s and Under-17s only, last year’s Under-13s team spent a further season together. The quality of cricket played by these youngsters, honed on the gritty and very successful Borders Under-11s and Under-13s league, showed real promise.

In the two games not affected by the weather, the Borders were dominant and Jack Halls (Gala) emerged as not only a cricketer of real quality and promise, but an astute leader.

In the first of these, Borders batted first at Criaglockhart against North Edinburgh and East Lothian (an area which encompasses, among others, Grange CC) and notched-up a very testing target of 175-4 from their 40 overs.

Biggar’s Jack Savage’s half century was the rock of the team’s innings, he was finally out for 51, his job all but done.

But it was the flair and aggression in Halls’ 58 not out that took the game away from the hosts.

Sharing an unbeaten partnership of 54 with Henry Adams (Biggar), he drove and cut majestically and Adams was a perfect foil.

In reply, the hosts were quickly in trouble as three wickets fell for only four on the board.

Ollie Farr (Kelso) was particularly impressive, his extra pace troubling the batters.

Sensing the game was won, there was a definite relaxation of the urgency shown in the first few overs.

Indeed, Crawley and McIntosh fought back for the hosts to post a partnership of 94, but when the latter was out for 34, the game dribbled to an inevitable conclusion, namely a Borders victory. Farr was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 11 off 8 overs.

In the final game against Pentland (an area which encompasses the likes of Watsonians, Penicuik and Carlton cricket clubs) all thoughts of wayward bowling were banished with a magnificent performance.

On a beautifully warm and dry day, Halls won the toss and, remarkably, inserted the hosts. This proved to be an extraordinarily astute decision as Pentlands crumbled to 70 all out inside 30 overs, with Adams the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 wickets for just 3 runs from 4 overs.

In reply, Will Thomson (Kelso) and Fergus Godfrey Fawcett (Melrose) ground out a tortuous half-century stand before the latter was out and Jack Savage came in and smote his first ball for four, hung about for a couple of overs and smote his last ball for another four to win the game.

With all the improvements that have taken place in the Eastern Region – and not least in the Borders – in recent years, this was not a Borders team punching above its weight, this was a dominant and skilful Borders team showing exactly what it was capable of.