By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
STOKE Gabriel’s battery of big hitters failed to fire as Ashburton eased to a seven-wicket win over them in the final of the Aaron Printers T20 Cup.
Stoke’s top four of Tolley, Robinson, Kingdon and Ansley have a formidable reputation when it comes to putting bat to ball. Robinson is one of the very few batsmen in local cricket to make a century in a T20 game.
Tolley was in and out for 12 to man-of-the-match in waiting Matt Coon, Robinson fell to the same bowler and so did Ansley after a brief flurry of shots that took him to 17 in a hurry.
As for Kingdon he was absent due to illness. He was laid up all weekend with a stomach bug that had ruled him out of the previous day’s league game against Bideford.
Ashburton’s bowlers not only kept the Stoke batters under lock and key they got them out at regular intervals, although one or two got themselves out with rash shorts or poor judgement of where there was or wasn’t a run.
Coon, who took four for 31, and Luke Pascoe kept chipping away at the middle order as Stoke subsided from 25 for three to 35 for five and on to 49 for seven on the South Devon ground in Newton Abbot.
Ant Kanwar, in a 43 for six following the demise of Mark Edwards, showed some grit and common sense in the second part of the innings and his doughty 23 not out ensured Stoke actually batted their overs.
With Kyle Lardner, Harrison Yeates and Andy Ball as running mates, Kanwar steered Stoke to 100 for nine after 20 overs. At least the bowlers had something to defend.
Ashburton were in no rush to whittle down the target as they knew occupation of the crease would be enough to win the game if they had wickets in hand.
Jake Pascoe made a steady 30 before chipping Tolley to mid-on, which was the foundation of the chase laid.
Skipper Lloyd White upped the pace with some sturdy hitting down the ground and by the time Pascoe departed the target was 21 to win. White did not hang about. He raced to 45 not out off 31 balls as Ashburton sped to victory with seven balls to spare.
Chris Pascoe – one of five members of the Pascoe family – was run-out with the scores level. Not that it made any difference by then.
If any socially distanced pats on the back were administered in the post-match debrief, that Pascoe should have had one for the shot of the day: a beautifully timed six over long-on that was still climbing as it disappeared into the trees.
Mike Pugh, himself a man-of-the-match in the 2009 Aaron Printers Cup final when Abbotskerswell defeated Bovey Tracey 2nd XI, weighed up the competing claims of Coon, Luke Pascoe and White for this year’s award before plumping for Coon.
“Ashburton’s bowlers gave the team control of the game and created the right environment for the batters to chase down the total with confidence,” said Pugh.
Ashes skipper White was in total agreement with Pugh.
"I thought we were absolutely clinical with the ball, which set the tone for the day. All of our bowlers were brilliant and our ground fielding was perhaps the best I have ever seen,” said White.
“Matt Coon set the tone with the big wickets up top and the Pascoe brothers, alongside Matt Churchill in the middle and death, were superb.”
Ashburton have not actually won any cup silverware since they were reformed around 40 years ago, so this victory was special.
“To be part of the club's first-ever cup win is an honour and with the direction in which we the club is heading, this won't be our last,” said White.
Tolley, Stoke’s dejected captain, was succinct afterwards. He said: “We didn’t bat well and you are not going to win many games batting first when you are 49 for seven.”
Click here for full scorecard from the final
The cup-winning Ashburton team. Back (left to right): Chris Pascoe, Steve Edmonds, Dan Coles, Toby Pascoe, Phil Pascoe, Luke Pascoe; front: Jake Pascoe, Matt Churchill, Matt Coon, Lloyd White, Ash Berry. Pictures Conrad Sutcliffe