The day’s second semi-final between Nantwich and Neston was a lower scoring, tighter game that eventually saw Nantwich chase down 124 to win by 2 wickets. However, there was enough in Nantwich’s performance for Bramhall to know that they would be in for a tough fight in the final.
Nantwich won the toss and decided to bat first of the helpful conditions. Despite an anticipated quick start, the visitors were pegged back promptly by Rupes Kitzinger as they stumbled to 32-2. However, this brought Ryan Brown to the crease and he immediately looked in good nick, finding the boundary with ease through a mixture of adroit sweeps and powerful drives. At 64-3, he was joined by Steve Rimmer, and the pair then combined to put on a destructive 91 run partnership in double quick time. Rimmer was eventually caught for 40, and Griffiths bowled 3 balls later, but number seven Freckingham smashed a quickfire 20 to push the total ever higher. Brown was eventually bowled for a superb 74, and Bramhall gained some comfort from 3 wickets falling in the last over for Iftikhar Naseer. His return of 5-19 from 4 overs was the standout performance with the ball, as Nantwich posted 186-8 from their 20 overs.
Up against it from the off, the Beavers made a positive start against the visitor’s experienced attack. Despite losing their first wicket on 23 – that of the in-form Ashley West – Bramhall were up with the required rate until calamity struck. 49-1 very quickly became 55-5, and then 64-7, as incoming batsmen could find no way of responding to accurate bowling and sharp fielding from the Dabbers. The strokes became more and more desperate as the required run rate grew ever higher.
With the game effectively over, two of the Beavers younger talents took it upon themselves to restore some pride and give the deflated home supporters something to cheer. Ryan Macciochhi and Sam Johnson each hit twenties to add 45 for the 8th wicket, as Bramhall started to show some fight. And despite then losing both to slip to 114-9, Kitzinger and Littlewood were stubborn enough to bat 33 balls between them to each finish unbeaten and possibly take a little bit of gloss off the win for Nantwich.
Bramhall finished on 123-9 to go down by 63 runs, and were thoroughly outplayed for large sections of the Final by a better side in Nantwich. The Beavers, however, could be proud of a solid day’s work.
The visitors’ Ryan Brown was rightly named Man of the Match for his batting in the final, and Bramhall was thanked by League Chairman Dave Humpage for hosting an excellent day’s cricket – albeit one where the “perfect” result eluded the home side.