Bradninch Cricket Club, the 2021 Sunbelt Rentals Devon T20 champions – that has a special ring about it and comes after the team sailed past the challenge of Plymouth in the semi-final at Bovey Tracey before holding their nerve to see off Exmouth in the final.
The first of the day’s semi finals saw Exmouth bat first and end their 20 overs on 145-7 before then bowling out Cornwood for just 103 in 16 overs and three balls.
Bradninch were tasked with getting the better off of Premier side Plymouth to book their place in the final and they first restricted them to 113-7 in 20 overs, a total they sailed past for the loss of just two wickets with one ball shy of a full nine overs still to be bowled.
It was, quite simply, as crushing a T20 result as you can get and came about after Ninch T20 skipper Gary Chappell lost the toss and saw his opposite number decide to bat first.
Ross Acton struck twice, first with the final ball of the first over and then with the second of his second – the third of the game, to leave Plymouth 6-2 after just 14 balls.
They failed to recover as captain Chappell changed his bowlers on a regular basis to keep any run rate acceleration in check. Craig Penberthy held a catch to give Joshua Farley am wicket and, after 10 overs, Plymouth were labouring on 41-3.
They continued to find compiling a challenging total a problem and there cause was not helped by three wickets in a single over taken by Aryan Raigangar who finished with impressive figures of 4-17 from four overs with one of his wickets a clean bowled and there were three catches held by skipper Chappell, Will Squire and Eliot Acton. Ross Acton’s return was a splendid 2-12 from a full complement of four and the other wicket taker was Josh Farley with figures of 1-25, also from four overs.
The Bradninch run chase followed a similar early pattern to the Plymouth effort with the bat as Rory Thomas fell for an 11-ball 11 (he hit one six and a four) and then Mitch Pugh suffered a first ball duck, but that was as ‘bad’ as it got for Ninch as number four bat Thom Bunker joined Gary Chappell and the pair set about ‘racing’ their side to a swift victory.
Bunker faced only 21 balls for his contribution of 43 runs – he hit three sixes and four fours and Chappell was unbeaten on 60, scored from just 35 balls, hitting four fours and as many sixes.
That all set up a Bradninch versus Exmouth final and this time Gary Chappell won the toss and opted to bat.
The skipper was first to fall, dismissed for just seven from nine deliveries, but fellow opener Rory Thomas made sure that momentum was not lost as he plundered 41 from just 28 balls, slamming three sixes and also rifling a brace of fours.
Thom Bunker followed Chappell and Thomas back to the Bovey Tracey pavilion – but not before the in-form batter had contributed another 24 from 15 balls – he slammed two big sixes.
Mitch Pugh, at three, underpinned the Ninch batting effort with a 37-ball 29 and, with 15 (from 10 balls) by Ankit Badwal and 14 (from 15 deliveries) from Craig Penberthy, Bradninch were able to close on 144-7 after their 20 overs.
The Exmouth run chase got off to a ‘flyer’ with Richard Baggs rolling back the years, hitting a 23-ball five boundary 29 from the opener’s slot before he was caught by Mitch Pugh off Aryan Raigangar.
However, Ross Acton claimed the big wicket of Exmouth skipper Tim Piper – bowling then former Bradninch man for a 13-ball 17 and, when Dan Pyle was bowled by Aryan Raigangar for an 11-ball three, the Maer men were 61-3.
Finn Marks joined Andrew Buzza and the pair set about giving their side a platform from which they could go on and win the match. Bradninch skipper Gary Chappell continued to switch his bowlers around, but, at the start of the start of the 16th over, Exmouth were 104-3 and seemingly ‘in charge’ needing 41 more runs from the final 30 deliveries – and with a handy seven wickets to play with!
However, Chappell took on the responsibility of sending down that 16th over and, after a combination of one, dot, one, he first had Andrew Buzza trapped leg before, his former Ninch – and Exmouth – teammate, out for a 25-ball 29 and, with the very next delivery Lawrence Greenway was run out by an Ankit Badwal throw.
It all mean that it was ‘game on’ with Exmouth now 106-5 after 16 overs, still needing 39 runs but now from 24 balls.
Chappell threw the ball to Mitch Pugh and, after four successive singles, it was a Chappell throw that effected another run out and, at the end of over 17, Exmouth were now 111-6, still needing 34 more runs with now just four wickets to play with and 18 deliveries remaining.
Josh Farley was tasked with the 18th over and, with the very first ball he had a catch held by Ankit Badwal and suddenly it was looking very much as if Bradninch were ‘on the home straight’.
As the 19th over began, Exmouth were 114-7, now needing an unlikely 31 more runs from 12 balls and Mitch Pugh sent down three successive dot balls.
The last three deliveries saw Exmouth muster seven runs, but that all meant that, with one over left, were 121-7 and now needed 24 runs from six deliveries sent down by Gary Chappell to deny Ninch a famous win.
They did manage to find 10 runs, but Chappell also claimed his side’s eighth wicket thanks to a Josh Farley catch and Exmouth were restricted to a close of 131-8 to leave Bradninch winners by 13 runs.
Unquestionably, it was a wonderful all-round bowling effort, backed up by some exceptional fielding that saw Ninch to victory.
As for those bowling figures, they read, all five bowlers sent down four overs each – Mitch Pugh (0-25), Ross Acton (1-29), Aryan Raigangar (2-22), Josh Farley (1-25) and skipper Gary Chappell (2-22).
A special mention to Aryan Raigangar, who, across the semi-final and final, sent down six overs for a splendid return of 6-39.