However, strange things happen in sport, and Crickhowell went from the ridiculous to the sublime, winning a thrilling encounter to dent Goodrich’s title hopes.
Goodrich won the toss and asked Crickhowell to bat first on a pitch that the home side held in some suspicion, given the thunderstorms the previous day.
Goodrich seemed to have read things correctly though, as opening bowlers O’Brien and Roberts made life difficult for the batsmen, with the ball moving around and often lifting quite sharply. Kinman went early on, getting a wicked delivery from Roberts that was taken well by Brown, above head height, at second slip. Kerrison though (34 off 57 balls) dug-in, as did Wallace (12) and Jenkins (22) but with a couple of wickets falling cheaply Crickhowell’s position was unremarkable, hovering at 145 for six after 30 overs.
With the captain’s number one instruction ‘to bat out 45 overs’ still ringing in their ears, it was Goodrich that seemed to loose the plot.
Nick Francis was now in, but playing cautiously and his brother Justin was batting sensibly with him, but Goodrich seemed to be architects of their own downfall, with the second string bowlers loosing line and length. Nick in particular took full advantage as the pair put on 150 for a seventh wicket partnership that saw Crickhowell more than double their score in the final third of their innings.
They finished on 308 for eight with Nick Francis (118) completing a superb century, in the end blasting eight fours and 10 sixes. Justin’s little cameo of 27 also contained four boundaries, but it was a partnership that took everyone by surprise, not least of all, Goodrich. Tim Price [8*] and Lloyd Francis [2*] remained not out at the end, but when the dust had settled, Goodrich could look back on 77 extras on top of that century by Francis. At tea, though Goodrich were still confident in chasing down 300 plus.
Brown (28) came out for Goodrich with all guns blazing and he was only dealing in boundaries, but with 30 on the board after three overs and seven fours to his name, he lifted Tim Price to deep long on, where Jenkins held on to a very important catch. Then there seemed to be a sharp catch taken at the wicket off Price again, with Wallace standing up, but the batsman and the umpire were literally, both unmoved and bowler, keeper and skipper Francis, were not amused. Francis decided to work through his frustrations by bringing himself up into a close fielding position and then took a stunning catch at short mid-on, off Phil Bowker to dismiss Jackson. Drinks were taken at 15 overs but with tensions still smoldering somewhat, Goodrich appeared to be ahead of the game, with 100 on the board, compared to Crickhowell’s 60 for two at a similar stage in their innings. After drinks though, it was Griffiths who felt the full wrath of Francis, trying to take a quick single, only for the skipper to swoop like a falcon and to strike down the stumps with a direct hit. Goodrich though, do have some depth to their batting, and at least Phill Bowker was offering some control in the middle overs bowling a tidy spell of 10 overs taking 2 for 41. His second wicket was a sharp stumping by Wallace who was performing heroics behind the stumps having picked up a groin strain when batting. O’Brien and Robbins though were batting sensibly for Goodrich and took the score past 200 in the 30th over, and Goodrich were clearly still on for the victory and Crickhowell knew that wickets were still needed if they were to defend their score for an unlikely win. With Wallace standing up, Tim Price (3 for 66) who was bowling well, got another one to lift off a length outside off stump and Robbins feathered a catch through to the keeper. In the true spirit of the game, Robbins didn’t even turn around for the umpire’s decision, he just departed for a very good innings of 59. O’Brien was still there though and still looking to win this game for the home side, but with Lloyd Francis (0-35) and Justin Francis (0-30) bowling nine overs between them without success, it was left to skipper Nick Francis and Ben Bowker to bowl out.
Nick (2-54) was bowling tightly at one end, but it was Ben (2-55) who came back to claim the last two wickets, having had some harsh treatment earlier in the game. He managed to bowl Shotton, which was the last wicket to fall, but it was the earlier wicket of O’Brien (66) that was crucial, and again he had ‘that man’, Nick Francis to thank, taking another superb running catch in the deep.
In the end, Goodrich were all out for 290 and Crickhowell had their famous victory by 18 runs in a match where nearly 600 runs had been scored and 18 wickets had fallen.