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  • Darrell Butler

Match Report: T20 Tournament (Graces and Broxbourne), 2nd June 2022

The bumper platinum jubilee weekend began for Unicorns with an action packed T20 tournament at Broxbourne. Having been thwarted by rain just three weeks before, the Unicorns side arrived to blazing north London sunshine amid what felt like the entire country flocking to the capital to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

With four teams in attendance, the hosts Broxbourne, our friends at Graces, and Barton

Seagrave of Northamptonshire, the day would include two semi finals and a 3rd/4th place play off before the grand final.

An all LGBT Semi Final was first up, and tossing in his stylish new jacket, Buckle made it four from four and asked joint-hosts Graces to bat first, the decision looked to be the right one until Benjamin Croft took 36 runs from 10 balls in the last two overs to take the first semi-final completely out of the reach of the visitors.

The inning started with Ravi Amruth bowling to Adam Leydon, between them, perhaps, the two most infections smiles in the world of gay cricket. Leydon got the legs moving first ball with a well run three and drove for 4 later in the over taking nine off the Unicorns opening bowler. Buckle, opting to open with spin from the pavilion end, struck almost immediately taking a tough caught and bowled chance as Sherwood top edged, looking to emulate his opening partner’s quick start. Mahender Pal followed in Buckle’s next over, clean bowled and with Amruth keeping a line tighter than the backsides of the many ducks and swans who greeted us on the short walk to the ground from Broxbourne Station, Unicorns found themselves in the game with Graces 27/2 from 5.

Buckle brought on fellow spinner, Lapworth team-mate and long time admirer Sam Long for the sixth and he began where his captain left off, as Leydon drove to Lachlan Smith for a run-a-ball 17 to see Graces slip to 27/3.

Skyner and Lycett steadied the ship for the hosts. They milked Long for singles at one end and took the attack to debutant Abdul Kasim at the other. Kasim, who despite going for 25 from his two overs, looks a useful addition to the Unicorns line up. The partnership, worth 61 continued until Lachlan Smith came on for the 14th over; when he emulated Buckle and Long by taking a wicket in his opening over by bowling the unfortunate Leo Skyner. Graces legend Stuart Anthony, in a cap camper than the man himself, followed in Smith’s next over for a well run five and the Aussie continued his spate of wickets by picking up Ivy in the next over for four.

With the score at 141/6 after Smith’s fourth over left him with impressive figures of 3-16, Simon Lycett brought up a 33 ball half century, clipping Buckle away for four with the first ball of the penultimate over. His subsequent retirement may well have left the Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire captains with jubilee ideas because it brought Benjamin Croft to the crease

who, despite a dot ball to start, managed to smear 9 of the remaining 10 deliveries for 36 runs to take the match seemingly out of reach of the Midlanders.

The target seemed further away still when stand in ‘keeper Tom Cox holed out in the first over looking to go big, Buckle and Hallam took the scores onto 40 in the fifth over before Hallam edged behind for a well crafted eleven. Abdul Kasim’s two straight drives to the boundary were straight out of the textbook as he and Buckle put on 45 before being run out but by then Unicorns were slipping behind the required rate and needed a miracle. Amruth, Long and Wright were unable to provide it, the latter being spectacularly caught with a one handed dive but Rich Andrews, coming in for the final balls provided some late joy , crashing one through the covers for 4 as Unicorns fell 78 short. (Scorecard vs Graces)

Our third place play off took place against host club Broxbourne after their incredible super over defeat to Barton Seagrave. After being inserted by the home side on the small second ground, Unicorns got off to a steady if not explosive start with Cox and Buckle finding the boundary 8 times between them over the course of their 42 run partnership. The pick were two huge sixes for Cox in the sixth over before Buckle, trying to push on, was caught for ten as Unicorns reached 66/1 at halfway.

Steve Hallam departed in the 11th over being struck in front to one which didn’t bounce and Kasim followed the next over. Lachlan joined Cox just as the opener reached his 41 ball half-ton and was beginning to find the boundary regularly before being run out in the 15th as Unicorns pushed for quick runs. Rich Andrews picked up where he left off earlier in the day, finding the boundary twice more over the final overs to finish 14 not out as he and Hattie Wright saw out the last three overs to guide the visitors to 122/5 from their 20 overs.

As for the Broxbourne reply. The less said about that the better. (Scorecard vs Broxbourne) Unicorns next match is an away trip to fellow mythical creatures Mermaids on Tuesday 14th June!

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