ESCA 8-a-side National Finals
On Wednesday 12 July, Summer Fields made its inaugural appearance at the Under 11 English Schools Cricket Association's 8-a-side national finals day.
Held at Oakham School, the eight regional champions from the tournament's previous rounds battled with each other for the national crown. Having won the South East title on the final Monday of term, our pool of three other regional winners was completed by the champions of the East (Haberdashers Aske's Prep School); North West (Manchester Grammar School); and East Midlands (Jesse Gray Primary School).
Our first game against Haberdashers opened with a good bowling performance and a solid all-round batting display - aside from some slightly over-ambitious running between the wickets - took us to victory. We also bowled first against Manchester Grammar School, with England star Andrew Flintoff in attendance to watch his son's performance. MGS' strong start to their innings was pegged back by the regular fall of wickets. We were left with a target of 33 to win. Our opening pair put us in a strong position but some tight bowling from the opposition meant the game remained in the balance until we eased to victory in the last two overs. After the lunch interval we faced our final pool game, knowing a win would put us in the play-off for the national title. A good batting performance saw us set a good target of 75 but the opposition got away to a strong start in reply. In the third over of the innings, their momentum was halted with the fall of a wicket and economical bowling from then on meant that the East Midlands champions struggled to get away from that point and our third win of the day qualified us for the gold medal match.
Prestfelde Prep School were our opponents, champions of the West Midlands, and they bowled exceptionally well at the start of our innings. We lost 25 runs through the five dismissals we experienced but, thanks to some good batting, we nonetheless battled to a potentially competitive 47 runs. However, the opening batsmen for Prestfelde made a very strong start and - despite great spirit and fight - we were never able to put them under sufficient pressure to turn the match in our favour.
Prestfelde were deserving winners of the national title. Despite some natural disappointment at not winning the title we were nonetheless delighted with our national silver medal to go alongside the Oxfordshire and South East regional titles. In the 8-a-side season our record of played 9, won 8 and lost 1 was highly impressive . The boys who played in the national finals performed at a very high level and did themselves - and the school - great credit. In addition, many thanks are due to all those parents who changed holiday plans at the last minute and transported their sons to Oakham to enable them to play in the finals; your support and enthusiasm is greatly appreciated.