Navy nearly lords of Lord’s

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Navy nearly lords of Lord’s
21 June 2012

The Royal Navy defeated the Army and ran the Royal Air Force close in a dramatic Inter-Services cricket competition at the home of cricket.

The sailors and marines edged their Army counterparts in the first of three Twenty20 matches at Lord’s Cricket Ground, before playing with patience and skill to set the Air Force a competitive score which they reached with eight balls to spare.

Man of the Tournament SAC Graeme Cessford bowls at the RN during the final match at Lord’s. Pictures: Sgt Jez Doak, RAF

THE Royal Navy defeated the Army and ran the Royal Air Force close in a dramatic Inter-Services cricket competition at the home of cricket.

The sailors and marines edged their Army counterparts in the first of three Twenty20 matches at Lord’s Cricket Ground, before playing with patience and skill to set the Air Force a competitive score which they reached with eight balls to spare.

The RAF’s team captain Flt Lt Matt Compton held aloft the trophy on the pitch on Tuesday evening while SAC Graeme Cessford was named man of the tournament for his dangerous fast bowling and powerful batting.

The Navy’s team coach Lt John Stephenson, said: “It was wonderful to see an RN side come and compete in the manner which they did today.

“Defeating the fancied Army team and running the RAF so close, until the cricket machine that is SAC Cessford took the game away from us; we were one over away from a fantastic day.

“But we will come back strong in the 50-over format taking heart from how well the boys played today.”

The recent rain held off as the teams and spectators enjoyed blue skies and summer temperatures. Players from all three services responded with positive hitting and energetic displays.

In the first game the Navy’s openers batted well and the Army were left needing 10 off their final over to win. They scored nine and the crowd thought the game had been drawn, but the Navy were awarded the win because they had scored at a faster rate in their first 10 overs.

The Army therefore had to play again, against a strong RAF side inspired by SAC Cessford, and suffered a heavy defeat.

Their score was at different points 3 runs for 2 wickets, 5 for 3 and 15 for 4 as they were bowled out for 44 in only 13 overs. The RAF wasted no time in concluding a 9-wicket victory in fewer than nine overs.

Batting first in the final proved a stern test for the Navy, but openers ET(WE) Matt Thompson and Mne Lee Evans weathered the storm that was Cessford’s bowling to end up with scores of 52 each.

The RN’s Lt Jonathan Parker bowls in the Twenty20 decider against the RAF

With some free hitting late in the innings the Navy finished on 147 for 4 off 20 overs. They then attempted to restrict the RAF’s scoring as much as possible.

The match was evenly poised until SAC Cessford began to score quickly batting at number four, hitting four sixes until an attempted drive deflected onto his stumps on 56.

By that stage the Air Force was already at 139 though, and the team completed a win by six wickets.

The Royal Navy’s captain, ET WE (SM) Matt Thompson, who normally serves in the Astute Class submarine HMS Ambush, said: “We’re so honoured to have been able to play at this legendary ground and grateful that we were given time to prepare when the Navy is so busy on operations.

“Congratulations to the RAF on their win, we’re disappointed obviously but we’ve put in a very strong performance we can be proud of.”

The event was being played at Lord’s for the third time thanks to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and was supported by sponsors Heineken in the UK and British Forces Broadcasting Service. Proceeds from collections on the day and other giving will benefit the military welfare charity Combat Stress.

Colonel Peter Sharland, Chairman of Combined Services Cricket, said: “This has been a wonderful day of cricket with a keen competitive edge.

“We are very grateful to the Marylebone Cricket Club for their fantastic hospitality and unwavering support to the Armed Forces.

“I am delighted for the players who have played at Lord’s today and will remember this event for the rest of their lives.”

Combat Stress Chief Executive, Commodore Andrew Cameron, said: “We are delighted and very grateful to have been chosen to benefit from the Inter Services T20 tournament. Combat Stress is currently treating and supporting almost 5,000 ex-Service men and women suffering from trauma-related mental ill-health and we hope that your recognition through the 2012 Tournament will raise awareness of Combat Stress and encourage more people to seek our help, as well as raising much-needed funds for our vital work.” 

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