THE curiosities of the League Cup regulations are such that Selkirk travelled to Kelso on Sunday knowing even defeat might not prevent them from topping Section B and reaching the final.
If Selkirk batted first, they needed only 111 runs to knock St Boswells into second place.
Kelso’s only hope of qualifying rested on batting first and beating the Souters by more than 14 runs.
It was, frankly, unsatisfactory that Kelso’s chance of topping the section were dashed when John Everitt won the toss and, with good reason, chose to bat.
If this was understandably galling for Kelso, their visitors were soon equally frustrated.
What made matters worse for Selkirk is that the top order gave Kelso more assistance than was strictly necessary. Everitt and Greg Fenton – as always, the two most important wickets – each played around deliveries that, while straight, were not obviously threatening.
Graham, meanwhile, forgot to ground his bat and was needlessly run out when he should have easily made it to safety and Massie, rashly, fell while trying to cut Keith Fingland.
All that put Selkirk in an awkward position: pinned down by accurate Kelso bowling (especially from Jason Gibson, Steven Patterson and Tim Wightman) and some way short of a target that would challenge Kelso’s experienced batting line-up or, more pertinently, reach the 111 that would guarantee the Souters a place in the final even if they lost.
Much depended upon Rory Banks and Darren Fenton. The latter batted with sense and discipline, recognising that his role was to support Banks as he led a stirring counter-attack. While these last two recognised batsmen were at the crease Selkirk hopes were still alive.
Banks, in particular, was in good touch, hitting five fours and a mighty six on his way to 40.
However, Fenton was deceived by Wightman and Chris Fairbairn fell to the Australian legspinner in the same over and Selkirk’s prospects looked bleak.
This was confirmed when, with time running out, Banks fatally misjudged a slow long-hop from Fingland and was bowled.
A total of 101 was, then, was not enough to see Selkirk into the final. Nor was there any way Kelso could qualify themselves and so, despite whirlwind knocks from Wightman and Phil Dunkley that saw Kelso home comfortably, neither side could draw much satisfaction from a result that sent the Villagers to the League Cup final.
They qualified because, with each team boasting a won-one, lost-one record, they had scored the most runs in the section.
At this stage it seems quite likely that the League Cup regulations will be a matter for some discussion at the league’s annual general meeting.
J. Everitt, b Grindle 20
G. Fenton, b Gibson 4
J. Graham, run out 2
A. Massie, c Roberts b Fingland 4
R. Banks, b Fingland 40
D. Fenton, c & b Whiteman 15
C. Fairbairn, c Wilson b Whiteman 0
C. Walker, b Galbraith 1
I. Banks, b Grindle 2
M. Ford, not out 5
Total for 9 101
T. Galbraith, c Fairbairn b Ford 17
S. J. Patterson, lbw b G. Fenton 6
T. Whiteman, not out 46
P. Dunkley, not out 28
Total for 2 102