Eastern Knights Win U15 Championship
This year’s Under 15s Inter-Regional Championship was dominated by the Eastern Knights, who won every match they played, defeating the Caledonian Highlanders and Western Warriors three times each. The Warriors finished in second, with last year’s champions, the Highlanders, finishing the season without a victory.
In the first match, the Knights posted 256-9 from their 50 overs, with Jamie Crawley top scoring with 88 and Finlay McCreath hitting 66. Kaleem Barreto was the pick of the bowlers with 4 wickets. Caley’s response started well, but Knights’ spinner, Andrew Appleton, tore through the middle order to finish with 4-25 and reduce Caley to 136 all out.
Caley were in action in match two, hosting the Western Warriors at Arbroath CC. Another positive start by Caley was thrown away as they went from 54-1 to 65-4, finishing on 132 from their allotted overs. The Warriors never looked troubled as they passed the target with 9 wickets in hand, with Taimoor Ahmad and Owais Shah unbeaten on 55 and 42 respectively.
Caley had the chance for revenge on the Eastern Knights as they hosted them at Lochside, Forfar. Again though, the Knights won the toss and scored an imposing total, with Jamie Crawley’s 96 helping the visitors to 230. 51 from home captain, Rory Johnston, got the Caley chase on course, but another excellent spell by Andrew Appleton (3-33) kept Caley to 215, just 15 runs short.
In the first Warriors-Knights match at Titwood, the Western team restricted their Eastern counterparts to just 177 from 50 overs, with Jamie Crawley again top scoring with 45. The Warriors reply never quite got going, with the Knights’ spinners proving difficult to score off. Andrew Appleton continued his rich form, taking 3-19 from his 10 overs as the Warriors finished on 125 all out.
Match 5 saw the Warriors hosting Caley, and in a low scoring affair, the home side finished on 150 all out, with Will Hardie taking 4-35. Caley’s reply never got going, with Louis Ware taking 3 early wickets as they slumped to 126 all out. Caley were soon in action again as they faced the Eastern Knights at Fettes College. Knights’ batters Jamie Crawley and Finlay McCreath put on 150 for the second wicket as the home side took advantage of fine batting conditions. Crawley finished on 67, with McCreath scoring 45 as the Knights finished on 257-7, Johnston taking 4-22. Another inspired spell by Andrew Appleton (5-30) left Caley well behind the required rate, and they completed their innings on 159.
With 4 wins from 4 matches, the Knights knew that victory over the Warriors at Stirling would guarantee the championship, and the Warriors needed a win to stay in the title race. On one of the hottest days of the year, the Warriors won a potentially crucial toss and opted to bat. However, disciplined bowling from the Knights kept the Warriors to 70-7 before the tail wagged to get the Warriors up to 149, Zain Ashraf top scoring with 42. The Knights replied positively, and kept well on top of the required rate. However, the Warriors kept taking wickets, leaving the game balanced until Chris Miller’s steady 33 took the Knights home with 3 wickets to spare.
In the final match of the series to beat the rain, the Warriors and Knights produced perhaps the best game of the series. At Hamilton Crescent, the Western side set an imposing 242, with Harry Briggs scoring a composed 80, ably supported by Owais Shah’s 58. Max Hancock bowled well ‘at the death’ to remove the final three Warriors wickets, finishing with 3-15. The Knights responded emphatically, with Jamie Crawley scoring his maiden representative century (117) and Finlay McCreath supporting him with 60. The Knights showed why they finished the season undefeated, winning by seven wickets with an over to spare.
Overall, the championship has been highly successful at getting the best under 15s in the country to play against each other in a competitive environment. Many thanks to all those clubs who offered their grounds and facilities for the matches.