|European Under 17 (Division 1) Championship: Northern Ireland, July 2008|
Guernsey down Denmark by 71 runs
Belmont, home to CIYMS CC, made its international debut today when it hosted the crunch Group A fixture between Guernsey and Denmark, the winner of which would be guaranteed a place in tomorrow’s third- and fourth-place play-off.
As with the Group B match at Comber, play started earlier than scheduled in an effort to minimise the potential effect of the rain which had been forecast but, happily, only fifteen minutes were lost to a passing shower and – over the course of nearly the full hundred overs – Guernsey ran out deserved winners by 71 runs.
Understandably, given the slightly damp and overcast conditions, Danish captain Taha Ahmed elected to bowl first and certainly appeared justified in doing so when he saw his team reduce Guernsey to the precarious position of 32 for 3 before even the tenth over had passed.
To begin, Shehzad Ahmed quickly found a way through Robbie le Corre’s defences, and the dangerous southpaw was soon followed back to the pavilion by Thomas Kirk, run out by an excellent return from deep extra cover while attempting a risky third.
Yesterday’s top scorer, Will Thompson, then nicked one down the leg side – again to Ahmed – to leave Guernsey even deeper in the mire.
But a gritty stand between captain Timothy Ravenscroft and Jonathan Clark restored a balance to the proceedings before Clark found himself just short of his ground as a shy from mid-on clattered into the non-striker’s stumps.
From here Ravenscroft and Adam Hindle then took Guernsey into three figures, their stand ended only when the the former was stunningly caught at short mid-wicket by Ahsen Chodari.
A few overs later Hindle was bowled by leg-spinner Ihjas Saumy with the score on 142, though this brought together David Hooper (47) and Adam Martel, whose seventh wicket stand of 59 was the crucial factor in getting Guernsey past 200. Will Peatfield’s rapid and unbeaten 17* would thereafter boost the Guernsey total to a more than competitive 232 for 8.
After an excellent lunch, the Danes couldn’t have wished for a better start in pursuit of victory as skipper Ahmed and Hamid Shah recorded a stand of 77 for the first wicket, rattling at more than five an over, although their progress was – it must be said – greatly assisted by some wayward bowling.
However, when Guernsey regrouped around the fifteen-over mark and found their lines, the Danish batsmen struggled to keep on top of the situation, failing to work about the good balls in between putting away the ever less frequent bad ones.
Indeed, the innings had somewhat lost its direction when its anchor, opener Shah, departed for a composed 35 and though the Danes reached 100 for only two down, the pace had slowed dramatically, with the returning Guernsey seamers much improved from their first spells.
Consequently, the required rate had become an increasingly tall order, what with the nagging accuracy of leg-spinner Ben McVey and skipper Ravenscroft really tying things down. The pressure inevitably told.
Numerous batsmen were dismissed coming down the pitch perhaps unnecessarily, attempting potentially rewarding but ultimately perilous shots, and this at stages when just singles and ‘twos’ would have kept the Danes in the hunt.
Sharp catches on the drive and in the box, from Thomas Kirk among others, ensured that Ravenscroft’s flight and guile was suitably rewarded (he ended with 4 for 31), while Will Thompson – impressively quick behind the timbers – picked up a couple of stumping victims.
In the end, such was the Danish collapse that when Christian Peck-Thorsted was bowled at 147 the last six wickets fell for just fourteen runs, with David Hooper ruthlessly clearing out the lower order.
For long periods of the match Denmark had been highly competitive, if not on top, but this lack of a substantial partnership among the middle to lower orders was what really undermined their challenge and what can best explain the 71 runs margin of defeat.
If Guernsey can overcome the Netherlands at Bangor tomorrow they will finish a highly creditable third in their first foray into top tier European cricket, while Denmark must now travel to Saintfield and defeat Jersey if they are to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.