The Diocese of Lichfield has lifted the 60th Church Times Cricket Cup after beating Bath and Wells in a closely fought contest.
It was Lichfield’s first time in the final of the competition and they faced a tough test against a Bath and Wells side who have yet to win the trophy, despite yesterday’s appearance being their seventh in the final.
Lichfield lost the toss at the Walker Ground in north London and batted first, making slow progress towards their innings total of 195 for 8, with man of the match Mark Rylands (Bishop of Shrewsbury) hitting 74 not out.
Bath and Wells’ initial response was equally slow but they soon began to pile on the runs. The turning point came when Peter Hart (Vicar of Cannock, Huntingdon and Hatherton) bowled out top scorer Richard Newport on 57, leaving the chasers on 107 for 4 after 34 overs.
Soon afterwards wickets began to fall relatively quickly and it was all over when two successive wickets left Bath and Wells all out on 155.
Jeff Reynolds (Methodist Superintendent Minister of Stafford and Chaplain to Stafford Prison) said after the game:
“I really thought that we were going to win this. We’ve got a very good side this year. Our 11 who played today are really good cricketers and although Bath and Wells are a good side, we always fancied that we would do this. We were always quietly confident. So to lift the trophy – and especially for some of the lads who have been with the Diocese for years and have always got knocked out in the first round – this is just a great day.”
One of the longest serving members of the team, Arthur Hack (Warden of Dovedale House and Non Stipendiary Curate of Alstonfield, Butterton, Ilam, Warslow with Elkstone and Wetton), has played in the Diocesan team for 18 years but could only play in the Church Times Cricket Cup for the past 12 after the competition rules were changed to allow a limited number of non-ordained postholders in each team.
He said victory was a huge relief:
“In the past we were very much the underdogs and in the last few years we have gradually improved. Last year we were the semi-finalists and this year we have won it, so it is a relief to be honest. Winning this competition means a lot. Some of us have been playing for many years and so to do it now is very good.”