EXETER’S under-13 cricketers just missed out on an unprecedented national double in the ECB Club T20 competitions.
The city side’s girls team blazed the way by winning the Lady Taverners’ U13 title by beating Coton then South Northumbria in their festival final at Oxton in Cheshire.
The boys’ team, which included girls’ captain Georgia Reed, won through county, area and regional rounds to reach Tuesday’s festival finals day at Rugby School in Warwickshire.
Hopes of emulating the girls were shattered in the morning semi-final when Exeter lost by 15 runs to eventual champions Hinkley Town from Leicestershire.
Exeter accelerated from 44 for two at half way to 82 for five chasing 113 to win with four overs to go, but slipped behind the run rate and could not catch-up.
Ollie Gribble top scored on 25 and there were a brace of 16s for Read and Felix Wills.
There was further disappointment in the third-and-fourth-place play off where Exeter lost by six wickets to West Bridgfordians from Nottinghamshire.
Finlay Hill (30) and Harry Williams (21) got the early runs with Tom Wraith whacking 22 at the end in a total of 103 for eight.
Harry Wright, the team’s regular captain who had been on holiday in the United States, arrived at Rugby School in time to bat in the play-off match. Unfortunately, he failed to trouble the scorers.
West Bridgfordians got over the line with three balls to spare. Hill, Zach Vukusic and Freddie Cockram all bowled miserly four-over spells.
Mark Gribble, one of the team coaches, said Exeter’s best was not quite good enough against strong opposition.
“We lost narrowly to the winners in the semi-final, but had a great day even if we underperformed slightly” said Gribble.
“Everyone was disappointed but you have to put these things into perspective. To be fourth out of the 1,500 teams who entered across the UK is very good. On another day we could easily have won.”
Gribble said officials from ECB made a special mention of both sides reaching the national finals during the presentation ceremony at the end.
“ECB outwardly praised Exeter CC for being the first club in the country to have boys’ and girls’ teams in the national finals,” said Gribble.
Semi-final: Hinckley Town 112-6 (K Mackan 30, S Das 26; F Hill 3-25), Exeter 97-9 (O Gribble 25, G Read 16, F Willis 16; D Fanibanda 4-24). Hinckley Town bt Exeter by 15 runs.
Third-place play-off: Exeter 103-8 (F Hill 30, H Williams 21, T Wraith 22no), West Bridgfordians 104-4 (U Minhas 33, J Hughes 20no). West Bridgfordians bt Exeter by 6 wkts.