Guernsey win inaugural Twenty20 inter-insular
David Piesing, Guernsey Cricket Board
Watched by ECB Chairman David Collier, Guernsey won the inaugural Barclays Wealth Twenty20 inter-insular against Jersey by 5 wickets with 2 overs to spare at Guernsey's KGV ground on Saturday 29th September.
The match formed part of the annual Lord's Taverners County Cricket Weekend which has now been running for 14 years. The Weekend saw a corporate 6-a-side tournament between 8 teams at Port Soif on Thursday for this year's county beneficiary, Vikram Solanki of Worcestershire CCC and England, followed by a benefit dinner at which the guest speakers were Solanki, Graeme Hick and Matthew Maynard. After a golf competition on Friday, Saturday saw Glamorgan play Worcestershire on Saturday morning in a Twenty20 game won by Worcestershire by 57 runs thanks to an unbeaten 93 from opener Stephen Moore and a superb 65 from just 32 balls from Hick. Worcestershire's victory means that they return for next year's match against neighbours Warwickshire, with next year's beneficiary from Worcestershire getting the benefit dinner. After their horrendous problems with flooding this year at New Road, it was particularly satisfying to see so much money raised for Solanki.
The afternoon game on Saturday saw a brand new format. Instead of the two counties playing a two-innings Twenty20 game as they have done in the last few years (a format which would appear to have some merit to replace the Pro 40 league format on the back of the huge success of Twenty20 cricket), this year saw Guernsey take on Jersey. Evening League cricket is immensely popular in Guernsey and has been played for more than 80 years and now sees 46 teams playing in 6 leagues across the island from late April to mid-August. The shorter-game format is not quite as popular at present in Jersey but its appeal there will no doubt grow on the back of the global growth of Twenty20.
In front of an estimated crowd of between 1,000 and 1,200 spectators, and with Guernsey in green and yellow kit and Jersey giving a first airing to their new red and blue kit, Jersey skipper Matt Hague won the toss and elected to bat first, presumably banking on the grass wicket getting lower and slower after being used for the earlier county game. However, Jersey got off to a very poor start with Jonny Gough bowled by Blane Queripel and then Hague himself was bowled by Kris Moherndl's first delivery. 8 for 2 off the first two overs was not the start that Jersey had hoped for but former county professional Ryan Driver, who has experienced the shorter game with Cornwall CCC, was joined by Chris Jones in a third wicket partnership of 72, the biggest of the day. Driver played some superb straight drives early on and although his scoring rate slowed down initially against the off-spin of GH Smit, he bounced back with some lusty blows including a very big six over long-on. He was eventually dismissed by Jeremy Frith for 65 off 63 balls and it was left to the middle order trio of Jamie Brewster, Bradley Vowden and Tony Carlyon to get Jersey up to 137 for 7 in their 20 overs. Jeremy Frith returned figures of 3 for 19 in his four overs while young Kris Moherndl bowled very well to take 1 for 13 from his four overs. One of the highlights of the innings was a quite astonishing diving catch by Jaco Pieterse at deep midwicket to dismiss the unfortunate Brewster.
Guernsey's reply could not have got off to a better start with aggressive left-hander Matt Oliver tucking into the Jersey opening bowlers with shots all round the wicket. He was well-supported by Jeremy Frith who worked the ball well into the gaps and the pair put on 60 in just 6 overs to lay an excellent foundation. Oliver fell for a fine 40 off just 20 balls but was replaced by the big-hitting Smit who got going very quickly and was particularly harsh on the unfortunate Tom Minty with three rasping straight drives for four in one over. Frith fell caught in the deep for 23 and Smit was then bowled for a brisk, hard-hit 35. Chris Jones bowled well to take 3 for 8 in three overs as Guernsey lost a couple of wickets but Andy Biggins saw his side over the line along with Moherndl who hit the winning boundary off Jones with 12 balls to spare.
Driver was named man-of-the-match for his innings of 65 despite ending on the losing side but it was a victorious Guernsey skipper, Stuart Le Prevost, who received the impressive new trophy from the Bailiff of Guernsey, Geoff Rowland.
With widespread agreement that the new format had been a big success, it was confirmed that the inter-insular format would continue next year and hopefully annually thereafter. Both teams clearly relished the opportunity to play in front of such a big crowd and with Twenty20 cricket inevitably going to become a feature of the European cricket scene before too long, both islands will be very keen to get in at the start of the international Twenty20 revolution where they are both well-equipped to punch well above their weight.