Unbeaten Villagers weather the storms

WhilE the weather tried its hardest to ruin things, the 2011 Border League championship provided some high-quality cricket, with St Boswells ultimately running out deserved winners, going through the league season undefeated.

As per last year, the top three teams consisted of St Boswells, Galashiels and Kelso. Hawick finished in the bottom spot without a win, despite some very close games, while Selkirk’s young, but fast-improving team claimed a victory to finish sixth.

Melrose ended the campaign in great form with wins over Selkirk and a memorable success against Kelso last Saturday to finish a respectable fifth, while Langholm were fourth.

Kelso ended up in third place with that surprising defeat against Melrose and two losses against St Boswells, while Gala, winners of the league for the last two years, finished in runner-up spot, having only completed five games out of the 12.

The first key game in St Boswells’ league triumph came at Gala on May 14 when they skittled out the hosts for 88. In reply, the Villagers made hard work of it, but scraped home with four wickets in hand.

The following week, it was Kelso versus St Boswells at Shedden Park.

With a top score of 36 by youngster Elliot Ruthven in a total of 193 from 50 overs, St Boswells set a competitive score for Kelso to chase.

In reply, the Tweedsiders lost veteran Dougie Wilson early on and by the time their overseas amateur Tim Whiteman went, Kelso were looking to the skies as the weather started to close in. A magical spell by Elliot Hunter saw him take six wickets for just five runs and leave Kelso all out for 79, meaning Boswells had claimed two massive away wins in consecutive weeks.

When the St Boswells v Gala game was again claimed by the weather in early July, it left Gala requiring the weather to hold for the remainder of the season to complete the required number of games and results to go their way – neither did.

So, on July 30, the Villagers hosted Kelso at The Green, with the latter needing a big victory to wrestle the cup back to Shedden Park.

For once the weather was heatwave like as Stephen Broom’s team posted 176 off their 50 overs, with Scott Ruthven and captain Broom getting fifties.

A bad-tempered and controversial game edged closer and closer to being a classic, but ultimately Kelso fell just seven runs short.

Broom again finished his team’s top run scorer with the veteran Elliot Hunter the club’s top wicket taker.

Youth cricket, thanks to development manager Neil Cameron and coaches across all Borders clubs, is starting to bear fruit, with Gala’s Josh Irvine deserving special mention for making the Scotland under-15 team and scoring a magnificent 136 against Selkirk in the same week.

One week of games remain in the Reserve League, with Kelso in pole position to claim the title.