Cricket:Driver steers Romerils to double

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Hours after collecting the accolade at the NatWest League’s end-of-season presentation dinner at the Grand Hotel, the former Lancashire professional guided Romerils to a six-wicket victory against Fairbairn Sporting Club Francais helping his club complete a league and cup knock-out double, the cup success on their first appearance in the final.

Chasing 151 for victory in 40 overs, schoolteacher Driver came in at the fall of the first wicket.

He played patiently facing 107 balls and scoring 48 runs in a two-hour stay at the crease.

He took Romerils over the finishing line to win with nine balls to spare.

But it wasn’t a one-man show as Romerils’ bowlers all took wickets – and vital ones early on as Island players Matt Hague, Meeku Patidar and Tony Carlyon all succumbed to catches after facing just five, two and nine balls respectively.

With six wickets down SCF were scratching around the 100-run mark but they scored another 50 runs thanks to an 18-ball 34 from Mark Reynolds, four boundaries and a six.

Last man John Patterson also played some fine strokes to score 18 runs off just 14 deliveries.

Romerils’ bowlers all took wickets, Martyn Waite the most productive with three for 37 in eight overs while 16-year-old Paul Connolly, also an award-winner on Friday night, chipped in with two for 18 in five overs inclusive of a maiden.

Romerils lost Waite in the sixth over and then Karl Le Fevre for a good 26 after he offered a simple chance for a caught and bowled by Bradley Vautier.

After Jamie Brewster went for 19, Driver and stand-in captain Nigel Crocker put on a 51-run partnership laying the foundations for the victory as James Caunt hit two boundaries to take Romerils to within striking distance of their success.

Tony Carlyon and Hague both returned the excellent figures of one wicket for 20 runs in eight overs with Vautier supporting with 2 for 24 – also in eight overs.

Crocker, a former SCF player, said: ‘It was a good win and team performance and Ryan deservedly won the man-of-the-match award selected by umpires Mike and Jane Carpenter.

‘Chasing 150 I knew we had a chance and it was about batting patiently but continuing to move towards the winning total.

‘We did that well and we were given the opportunity by our bowlers who all did well when Sporting Club batted.

‘Lee Kent took two great catches at mid-on for us while Jon Prince took a sharp catch at slip in his first game back since snapping an Achilles tendon.

‘Karl Le Fevre batted confidently and together with playing a couple of good shots off his legs he also stepped outside the line to cut the ball away over the slips a couple of times.

‘The track was drying out and Ryan and I had to be careful because the ball was turning.

It was important we stayed there and we did that while also looking to score off the bad deliveries.

‘We managed it well and winning to complete a league and cup double was a great performance.

‘We are looking at next season already, we will be looking to add a couple of players to the squad because we don’t want to be known as one-season wonders.’ SCF captain Meeku Patidar said: ‘Romerils deserved to win, Ryan batted steadily and credit to our players for making it so close despite defending what was a low score.

‘We were always slightly behind it and another 30 runs and it may well have been a different result.

‘Romerils bowlers delivered the right line and length and overall they deserved to win.

‘We had a few young boys out there today and they’ve done well.

They have played in recent weeks too so now have had a taste of what top flight cricket is all about.

‘Next year we will be looking to bounce back stronger, we were champions last year and we did not defend our title this season as well as we would have liked.’

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