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A trio of mint performances

NAVY riders made a clean sweep of the three principal Service polo tournaments – the Rundle Cup, the Inter-Regimental Tournament and the Duke of York Cup – for the fi rst time in 14 years.

● Cpl Alvin Pollard (CLR) thumps a six for the winning runs against the Army at Lord’s to clinch the Twenty20 title Picture: Matt Bright, MCC Twenty20 visionaries

LORD’S. A beautiful summer’s day. Victory over the Army and RAF in cricket’s Twenty20 Inter- Services tournament. It doesn’t get much better than this.

clash at the home of cricket which the soldiers won by 55 runs and a lunchtime display of Kwik cricket from colts of US Portsmouth CC and Shrivenham along with Service cricket coaches, the Royal Navy joined the fray against the Air Force.

back but picked up the pace in the second half of their innings to build a competitive score of 141, writes Lt Cdr David Cooke, RNCC. The RN’s response was led by

a spirited innings of 71 from Lt Jon Batley (PJHQ), playing his last day’s cricket in the RN. As is the way of T20, wickets

bat and top edged the ball over the wicketkeeper’s head for four runs in front of the pavilion. The crowd of nearly 3,000 went wild; the RN had won by one wicket. With one win apiece, the fi nal game between the RN and the Army would produce the victors of the tournament. The soldiers batted fi rst and thanks to some exceptionally

fell, nerves jangled and the RAF fought back to produce the perfect climax with the Airmen requiring the wicket of the last man and the Navy needing one run off the fi nal delivery, Cpl Jon Grasham’s (CTCRM) only ball. Grasham took guard, swung the

The RAF were initially held After an opening RAF-Army

tight bowling from ETWE(SM) Matt Thompson (Raleigh) 3-15 off four overs, AB Mike Green (Daring) 2-19 (4) and ETWE Joe Hill (Ark Royal) 2-19 (4) and very impressive fi elding, were restricted to 116.

In reply the RN got into their

stride slowly with the Army showing that they too could excel in the bowling and fi elding departments; the required run rate mounted and the Naval batsmen started to succumb to the pressure as wickets began to fall. With fi ve overs to go and 50

runs still required the ship ap- peared to be sinking. The one stal- wart of the RN innings however was opening batsman Thompson, who displayed great technique and enormous maturity to reach 50 off 52 balls.

With vital assistance from Cpl Cullum Smith (R Sigs Blanford) (24) and ultimately Cpl Alvin Pollard (Cdo Logs Regt) (14), the Navy closed in on the target requiring just 17 off the last two overs.

In the event, it was Pollard who hit the winning runs in style – a six over the bowler’s head with just two balls to spare to snatch victory from a shell-shocked Army team; the RN won by four wickets. The crowd went wild once more, MCC President John Barclay congratulated all three teams for a tremendous day’s cricket and judged Matt Thompson player of the tournament for his fi ne all- round performance. The ladies were sadly unable

to match their male counterparts in the female Inter-Services T20 contest in Portsmouth.

They came a most creditable

second, well in front of the RAF, but not even close to a very strong Army side.

Elsewhere, the Inter-Services U25 competition was held at RAF Uxbridge where a relatively- inexperienced RN side, which included five new caps, took on the might of the Army on the first day... and fell 153 runs short of the target of 292 set by the soldiers.

An unchanged RN side which

was still recovering from this mauling then faced the RAF. All five Navy bowlers took wickets – ET S Louis 2-8, Hill 2-22, Thompson 2-28, Green 2-29 and Logs (CS) E Tempro (Albion) 2-51 – to bowl the airmen out for 151.

The RN lost two quick wickets

in reply, but Hill and Thompson restored order with good knocks and finally Hewitt and ET(ME) J Richards (Argyll) finished the job off in 42 overs – a resounding victory. In Portsmouth, five Command teams (Royal Marines, Portsmouth, Scotland, Plymouth and Naval Air) took part in the Inter-Command Twenty20 cricket competition,

a round-robin

tournament over two days with the two top teams competing in the final on the grass wicket at Burnaby Road. Two teams stood out as likely finalists: last year’s winners the Royal Marines and Portsmouth, who had dug deep to unearth a number of Navy players from the woodwork. There were some very fine

performances throughout the tournament – perhaps the most staggering from PO S Sheakey (Collingwood) who scored 101 not-out in just 22 balls when batting for Portsmouth against Scotland He was named player of the contest – and it was his team

which triumphed, beating the

commandos by 17 runs in the final.

The Ladies Inter-Services were

held at Aldershot where the RN played the strong favourites the Army on day one.

The RN opening bowlers

restricted their opponents to a manageable run rate, but later loose bowling and an impressive 64 from an Army middle order batswoman restored some credibility to their score. In reply to a target of 232, the RN started steadily, with S/Lt H Garton (Sultan) opening with 25, Lt U Frost (Fleet) (35) and useful contributions from lower order batswomen, but the RN fell short by 48 runs. The following day, the ladies

were out for revenge and were prepared to put the RAF to the sword. Batting first, the RAF scored 70 before the loss of their first wicket but then wickets fell very quickly and they only managed to scramble to 115-8 after their 40 overs. In reply, despite a couple of rain stoppages, Garton and Boswell were in a hurry to get a victory under their belt and duly did so in just 18 overs: Garton made 55 not out and Boswell 22 from 19 balls to claim a nine-wicket victory for the Navy.

After the euphoria of the RN

victory at Lord’s, the senior Inter- Services in Portsmouth seemed to have a feeling of anti-climax First up were the RAF who lost six wickets for 101 runs. Things were looking good for the Navy, but the foot was taken off the pedal and the late/middle order batsmen were allowed to amass a score of 207-9 in 50 overs. The RN never really got going

 Continued on page 46

Starting on a gloriously sunny afternoon at Tidworth, the Army and Navy met for the Rundle Cup, the highlight of the Services’ polo season (pictured above by CPO(Phot) Rob Harding, FRPU East).

This year the senior RN team of Cdre Richard Mason, Capt Adrian Aplin, Lt Cdr Al Wilson and S/Lt Hiro Suzuki faced a three-goal Army side.

As the slightly weaker team on handicap, the Navy started with ½ goal lead and immediately made themselves felt. Attacking from the start, a very fast run by Suzuki culminated in a beautiful pass towards the Tedworth House goal where Wilson was perfectly positioned to elegantly run the ball between the posts and open the scoring. The Army were quick to respond but excellent defensive play by Mason and Aplin prevented them from fi nding the posts, leaving the RN in the lead 1½-0 at the end of the chukka. In the second chukka the Army stepped up the pressure and scored an extremely good goal, but the RN were not to be bullied. Suzuki quickly replied with a scorching goal from the 40- yard line. However, shortly before the whistle for half time, the Army won a penalty which they successfully converted to leave them just trailing 2½-2.

In the second half both sides played hard, aggressive polo but the Senior Service’s cohesion and discipline gave them the edge against a very talented but occasionally-muddled Army side. The Army were not short of attacks but the RN defence was up to the mark and three good attempts at goal were pushed wide. In response the Navy pressured the Army’s goal and scored twice; a well co-ordinated attack had Mason neatly running the ball home before the end of the third chukka and, half-way through the fourth, Aplin overcame very robust defence by Cowley to score a clean nearside goal, thus putting the Navy in the lead 4½-2 at the fi nal bell.

The following day the Navy team met at Guards Polo Club at Windsor for the fi nal of the Inter-Regimental tournament where they faced a very strong three-goal Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) side.

Although starting as the underdogs, the Navy knew that if they played as they did on the previous day they could upset the cavalry’s plans to carry away the silver.

Starting with a half-goal lead, the Navy began well but it was the Cavalry that opened the scoring. Refusing to be daunted, the RN immediately counter-attacked and Suzuki successfully converted a penalty. The fi rst half continued with excellent, closely-fought end-to-end play with two further goals from the Army and another 30 yard penalty by Suzuki leaving the half time score at 3-2½ to the HCMR. In the third chukka the play remained evenly-matched; an

aggressive Navy attack culminated in an excellent backhand by Aplin keeping the ball in play; it was then neatly tapped round by Wilson to score a fi ne goal, putting the RN ahead 3½-3. The Army also scored before the end of the chukka. Neither the umpires or goal judge saw the ball cross the line but the RN gallantly insisted that it had and a goal should be awarded. The fourth chukka started 4-3½ to the Cavalry and was undoubtedly the most exciting of the match. Both teams came out hard, however the Army conceded a 40

yard penalty which Suzuki converted allowing the RN to take the lead.

The HCMR were determined to go down fi ghting. Two minutes from the end, Mann picked up the ball from the halfway line to run towards goal. In the defensive mêlée that followed the

 Continued on page 46

Published by Navy News, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth and printed by St Ives (Roche) plc.

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