This season’s T20 finals day saw Matlock face Sawley & Long Eaton Park in the first semi-final of the day, to be held at Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
After both teams completed their warm-ups in rather gloomy conditions, the umpires called for the Captains to toss and this was won by Matlock’s Steve Pell, who elected to bowl first.
Matlock’s talisman Peter Camm opened the bowling but produced a number of wide deliveries. The same was to happen for the usually economical Ed Lander, who also struggled with his line early in the game.
After a change of bowling, Chris Fletcher brought about the first wicket, dismissing Birley, caught behind for seven. Veteran John Aspinall was brought into the attack and soon joined in the fun, picking up the wicket of Eckersley for 20. Sawley captain Rhodes was next to go, caught by Hosein off the bowling of Aspinall.
After a partnership of 20, Aspinall picked up his third and final wicket in dismissing Conway-Jones for 13, after an excellent catch from keeper Stokes.
At this stage, Richard Lawton was striking the ball well and any hopes of Sawley posting a defendable score appeared to be on the shoulders of the last recognised batsman.
Wickets tumbled regularly and when Taylor and Glover were removed by Camm and Fletcher respectively, it was left to Lawton to get the score moving with some big hitting to leave Sawley with a score of 132-7 from 20 overs. The standout performer was John Aspinall, who recorded figures of 3-18 from his four overs.
At the break, Matlock appeared a little disappointed with their performance as too many extras were conceded. However, in league cricket, Matlock have an impeccable record of chasing down targets and therefore the mood was a confident one.
Kevin Leatherday was joined at the crease by Peter Camm who was intending to give the innings a quickfire start, but this plan failed as Camm was removed by Conway-Jones for a duck. John Aspinall was next in but he too was dismissed, second ball.
Chris Fletcher joined Leatherday with Matlock in trouble and the pair batted sensibly to try and rescue the situation. They progressed the score to 91 before Fletcher was run out by Leatherday for 44 from 48 deliveries.
Matt Cluer joined Leatherday at the crease and, with 40 runs required from the remaining four overs, the Matlock camp were concerned that time may just run out. However Cluer and Leatherday set about the remaining runs and in the 19th over Cluer struck two boundaries and Leatherday the biggest six of the day to swing the tie firmly back in Matlock’s favour.
With Sawley now looking down the barrel, it was left to Conway-Jones to try and bowl the final over of the match for less than the three runs required for Matlock. After two runs from the first ball, the winning run came courtesy of a leg bye and it was Matlock who progressed to the final. Leatherday finished with 47 from 49 deliveries and Cluer 25 from 15 deliveries with a strike rate of over 166.
Marehay beat Alfreton in the other semi-final but the wet weather then intervened so the final will be played next season.