Garstang 1st team arrived at Penwortham Cricket Club for the final of the 2017 Meyler Cup in confident mood, having comprehensively beaten local rivals Longridge the day before to sit top of the Moore & Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division and extend their unbeaten run to 10 games. Opponents and title rivals Vernon Carus were also in confident mood following a run of good results that had left them in 3rd place in the league. The final was a replay for last years final with Garstang coming out as winners.
Garstang made one change to the previous days side with Waris Khan coming in for veteran bowler Gareth Jennings. For Vernons, they decided to bring in superstar all-rounder Adam Parker for the final at the expense of the unlucky Mark Hardiker.
Vernons won the toss and captain Christian Ash decided to bat, a decision that Garstang were not too concerned about given the amount of rain and bad weather during the week leading up to the final.
Garstang’s opening bowlers Ian Walling and Danny Gilbert made a good start bowling two maidens in the first three overs, however the opening batting pair for Vernons, Ian Dunn and Adam Parker, managed to survive and as time went on started to look more and more comfortable. Spinner Coen Oosthuysen was brought into the attack and although he didn’t manage to pick up a wicket he did manage to slow the scoring rate and give captain Mark Walling a degree of control. At 39 for 0 after 10 overs the Vernons pair were looking confident and Garstang needed at wicket. Captain Mark Walling replaced one brother for another, bringing slow bowler Michael on for Ian, and in his third over made the much needed breakthrough, bowling Ian Dunn for a well made 35. Dunn’s opening partner Adam Parker was now starting to look really dangerous hitting boundaries with regularity. Captain Mark Walling now turned to pace man Waris Khan who started well, restricting the Vernon batsmen to singles and the odd play and miss. At the half way stage the players left the field for a drink with Vernons in a commanding position at 86 for the loss of only 1 wicket with the prospect for a 200+ score on the cards.
Garstang really needed a hero to stand up and grab the game by the scruff of the neck if they had any chance of restricting Vernons to a chaseable score, up stepped Waris Khan. In the space of four overs he took the wickets of Vernons numbers 2, 3 and 4 batsmen, including the dangerous Adam Parker for a hard hitting 50. From there Garstang bowled and fielded incredibly well with the returning Danny Gilbert picking up three wickets, Ian Walling two wickets and a run out of Vernons captain Christian Ash a well-received gift. From a position of 86 for 1 off 20 overs Garstang managed to restrict Vernons to 149 all out off 38.5 overs. Vernons will look at their usually strong middle order of numbers 4 to 8, who only contributed 32 runs between them, as the main reason for their spectacular collapse.
After a fine tea provided by the hosts, Garstang set about the run chase, knowing that if they batted all the over they would win. Openers Michael Walling and Allan Cook knew that a solid start with no early wickets would go a long way to settling the nerves of both their Garstang team mates and traveling supporters. Both batsmen started watchfully, happy to see off the good ball and wait for something loose from Vernons opening bowlers Paul Hayton and Matthew Timms. Garstang’s opening batsmen had made it to 30 when they lost their first wicket, Allan Cook adjudged LBW for 9 to first change bowler Ben Llewellin. Captain Mark Walling joined brother Michael at the crease, however three overs later Michael edge behind off the bowling of Paul Hayton for 16, leaving Garstang at 34 for 2 off 11 overs. With the game very much even the Vernons team set about getting another couple of quick wickets that would turn the game in their favour. Michael Wellings joined Mark Walling and the pair set about rebuilding the innings. They had got the score up to 52 when Mark Walling took on Vernons spinner Joe Allen and tried to launch him into Penwortham town centre, only managing to hit the ball straight up for Matthew Timms to catch on the second attempt for 12. Garstang were now 52 for 3 off 16 overs needing another 98 runs to win. Coen Oosthuysen joined Michael Wellings at the crease and batted through to the brinks break. At the half way stage Garstang were 62 for 3 chasing the target of 150 to win.
Garstang started the second half of their innings in a positive manner with Michael Wellings and Coen Oosthuysen moving the score on to 80 at the 24 over mark but lost Coen Oosthuysen again to the spin of Joe Allen for 10. Matthew Crowther came to the wicket to continue the run chase with Michael Wellings but only 4 runs later Michael Wellings was removed LBW by the returning bowler Matthew Timms for 22. At 84 for 5 of 25 overs Garstang were in real danger of throwing it away, Mark Winstanley joined Matthew Crowther at the wicket and looked to steady the ship, and the Garstang nerves. As in the first innings when Garstang needed a hero and Waris Khan stood up and change the game, Garstang now needed the same from Matthew Crowther and Mark Winstanley, and neither disappointed. Both men kept out the good ball, picked up the singles and dispatched the bad ball. The pair moved the score from 84 to 124 before Matthew Crowther was caught and bowled by Adam Parker for 22. Ian Walling joined Mark Winstanley in the 35th over with Garstang still requiring 26 runs of 30 balls with 4 wickets remaining. The pair only needed 15 balls to score the required 26 runs with Ian Walling heaving a boundary to cow corner and Mark Winstanley launching Matthew Timms into the houses to finishes the game with a six. Garstang had reached 151 for 6 wickets in 37.3 overs to retain the Meyler cup for 2017.
Mark Winstanley was voted as Man Of The Match for his match winning 38 not out, but special mention must go to bowlers Waris Khan 3-27, Danny Gilbert 3-31, Ian Walling 2-20 and to batters Michael Wellings 22 and Matthew Crowther 22.
The players would like to thanks Penwortham Cricket Club for their hospitality and hard work on the ground and to all the people who travelling to support us in the final.
Updated 11:14 - 21 Sep 2017 by Tom Winstanley