Both Kent & North West Police Cricket Alliance once again found themselves back at The Upton Steel County Ground, Leicester, for the final of the National Championship, a repeat of the 2021 Final which NWA won by three wickets.
Both teams had another successful season travelling around the country, playing the best cricketers police sport has on offer. With both at nearly full strength and containing players currently representing British Police and others who had previously represented the National team the gathering Sponsors and guests were looking forward to a competitive match. With play scheduled for 1pm, the early morning weather was promising, with warm dry conditions albeit a somewhat ominous forecast for later in the day. With the prevailing conditions and a very flat looking wicket, both teams were eager to bowl first with the knowledge that Duckworth / Lewis may well be introduced later in the afternoon.
The Groundsman had already made it abundantly clear that any showers, no matter how light, would require the teams to leave the playing area to allow wickets required for upcoming fixtures for England U19 and Sri Lanka to be covered. The toss was won by Simon Williams (Kent) who had no hesitation inviting NWA to bat first in anticipation of a successful run chase as opposed to 2021 where they had to defend a score in the region of 170.
NWA opened with Farukh Khan (GMP) and Adam Phillips (Merseyside), the runs flowed freely, with Phillips rocketing to 50 within the first 15 overs. Khan played a superb supporting role, hitting an understated 9 in their partnership, enabling Phillips to play aggressively, dispatching a number of deliveries from the Kent bowlers into the neighbouring football ground.
After the dismissal of Khan by Williams with the score at 59-1, this brought Gary Knight (GMP) to the crease. Knight has been by far the star batsman of the last two seasons for the NWA, averaging over 100 in 2021 and scoring critical runs during this seasons campaign. He has also scored 3 centuries in his 2 BP Tours to date. Gary struck some lusty blows, in what was a relatively restrained innings by his standards, amassing a total of 43 off 52 balls before he was dismissed by the bowling of Kent’s tall off spinner and British Police 2022 debutant, David Roffey.
Kent’s bowlers dried up the run rate with some very tight overs, in the process ripping the middle order out of the NWA’s batting line up (Ryan Halpin 12, Jack Baybutt 0, Dean Skelton 1 and Ben Dowling 5). This included Phillips for 89 (96 balls 9 x 4 & 3 x 6) and would have placed him in line for the MoM award.
However the ship was steadied by Lancashire’s Nick Barker, who held his nerve steering his team from 146-3 to 233-7, hitting 56 n.o. at a strike rate of nearly 100 seeing the innings out with Scott Graves who ended on 7 n.o. The final target of 233 would mean Kent requiring one of the highest run chases in a Final but no doubt they would have been feeling quietly confident, with the likes of Drakeley and Roffey in their ranks, of reaching their target.
Unfortunately we would never find out … as the players and officials retired to the clubhouse, the rumbles of thunder commenced, and Leicester CCC’s ground staff wasted no time in dispatching the covers to protect what was a very good wicket for so late in the season. What followed could only be described as a downpour of biblical proportions, lasting for upwards of an hour. The puddles on the outfield sealed the decision, and following consultation with the umpires, both captains shook on a draw and the City of London Police Cup was shared for the season 2022.
Whilst this was an all round disappointing result for both sides and supporters alike, the day was superbly hosted by Leicester CCC. Presentations and speeches at the end of the evening were given by Championship Secretary Paul Sims, both Captains and the newly appointed Chair of Police Cricket, Lee Freeman (CC Humberside)
A huge thanks goes out to all involved, including the respective Sports and Social Clubs for their unwavering support.
Finally a massive thanks to Serve and Protect for agreeing to sponsor the British Police Cricket Final at late notice.