With an air of confidence, Shrewsbury looked to defend their title won less than 300 days ago on the same Arundel Castle ground. An unbeaten run of 17 games in T20 games spread over 2 seasons and with nine of last year’s victorious side selected to play, Shrewsbury looked to challenge Millfield on the third occasion that the two sides has met at this stage of the competition. Glorious weather greeted us this time in stark contrast to the damp, early autumn conditions last year. The ground looked a picture and stage good enough to host the four best schools in the country in the shortest format of the game.
After Millfield won the toss and decided to bat, they set about the Shrewsbury attack with relish; Smith was often wayward in his length, Aston a little more consistent but paid the price for bowling too full at times. The power play yielded 46 runs and gave Millfield the first advantage. The introduction of Henry Lewis saw the pace taken off the ball and with it, he took a very sharp caught and bowled (his 7th of the season) to remove Will Jenkins with the score on 53.
The introduction of the slow bowlers, Blofield, Prescott and Lewis put a brake on the Millfield run rate as 8 runs an over quickly fell to below 6 and Millfield started to lose wickets, Lewis removed Will Sobzcak by courtesy of a well judged catch in the deep by Steve Leach and Mark Prescott was chipping away at the Park End. Three very athletic catches by Jack Hudson-Williams all off Prescott’s bowling reduced Millfield to 93-5 at the end of the 15th.
The onslaught in the final 5 overs never came about as some tight bowling aided by some exceptional fielding ensured that Millfield never scored a boundary in the final quarter of their innings. Mark Prescott finished with the exceptional figures of 4-14 off his 4 overs and Shrewsbury were highly satisfied that Millfield had been restricted to 115-7 off their allotted 20 overs.
Shrewsbury’s reply never really got going; the loss of 4 wickets in the power play was a blow they never really recovered from. Only 3 batsmen (and extras) got into double figures and although Alistair Pollock hung around at one end, the big hitters never got going and it was left to the lower order to try and rescue the innings. Millfield, to their credit, bowled well and set effective run-saving fields that strangled Shrewsbury’s supply of runs. Shrewsbury were finally all out when Alistair Pollock skied one to mid-off with 10 balls remaining.
Shrewsbury failed once again to overcome Millfield at this stage of the competition, though to be fair on the day they were a better side and Shrewsbury will go away looking to rebuild with nine of their side leaving this year (this particular year group were also Under 15 ESCA National Champions in the T20 format). However, their Under 17 side composed of mainly 4th and 5th formers have reached the semi-finals of the National Under 17 competition and they are optimistic that they can challenge the best schools in the country once again next year.