|European Under 15 (Division 1) Championship: Jersey, August 2008|
Dutch scrape home against Guernsey
Guernsey came agonizingly close to causing a serious upset at FB Fields today, falling just five runs short of their revised target following a thrilling runs chase against the Netherlands.
Largely owing to Sebastian Braat’s belligerent and unbeaten half-century (52* from 56 balls, including seven fours) the Dutch had posted 182 for 5, a formidable total given the string of low scores seen this week, but the Division One newcomers never let up in their pursuit of it, and came within a whisker of reaching it.
That their target had been kept within reach was to a great extent down to the accuracy of their attack: one of the lowest ‘wide’ counts of the week, coupled with a bowling card which gets not much weaker the further down you go, meant that - although it would be challenging – the prospect of victory was no mirage.
Doing their best to put the match out of Guernsey’s reach, alongside their captain Braat, had been Nick Wories (39) and Sebastian Prenen (24), who shared in a decisive stand of 59 for the third wicket. Stefan Ekelmans, meanwhile, also provided a sting in the tail, making 17 at nearly a run a ball in the closing over.
Shortly after the lunch break, the rains returned to St Helier and the Islanders’ target was reduced to the slightly more manageable 155 from 38 overs, but thanks to tight opening spells from Sebastian Braat and Mattheus Prenen, they were henceforth on the back foot.
Behind the required rate for almost the entire chase, Guernsey lost four of their batsmen to run outs (including, crucially, Adam Clark), with five of the other six falling to the Dutch spinners, James Gruijters (2-30) and Usman Yousaf (3-35).
What further hindered the Guernsey cause was that a number of batsmen who made promising starts could not go on to play what would have been the match-winning knock. This problem was perhaps reflected in the fact that the highest stand of the innings was just 25, between Clark and Ian Damarell.
The positives, however, will far outweigh the negatives for Guernsey. Not only did they demonstrate how far down they bat, and that they give in to no opposition, but they also put beyond any doubt whatsoever that they belong in the upper echelons of European youth cricket: a good start, this, and it promises much more to come.
The Dutch, on the other hand, will be relieved to have finished in third, and should be satisfied with the excellent performances of a number of their leading all-rounders, such as Gruijters, Braat and Prenen, throughout the week.