FPs turned in a near-faultless performance in the Aberdeenshire Cup Final as they swept to victory by 60 runs. A stand of 70 in 50 balls between Fraser Proud (62) and Conner McKinney (52) for the 6th wicket allowed FPs to post a formidable 210 for 8 on an excellent cricketing wicket. When FPs then reduced Gordonians to 36 for 4, there was only likely to be one winner. Despite a determined 50 from Patel, Gordonians were always behind the rate and Harry Mapplebeck (4/26) and Fraser Proud (2/24) combined to bowl out Gordonians for 150. It was a special day for grades stalwart Alex Keith who finally won the Aberdeenshire Cup at the 8th time of asking in the final.
With the rain on Saturday, the pitch was kept covered for much of Sunday morning and Gordonians looked to have won a good toss and asked FPs to bat. Morrison and Keith batted carefully at first with opening bowlers Shaikh and Perera both bowling accurately. The openers did well to see off the new ball putting on 45 until Keith (25) drove Bhandari straight to Mehta at cover who took a good catch. It was 45 for 2 moments later as Morrison was bowled looking to sweep spinner Hegde for 16. Skipper Swiergon came and went for just 10, very unluckily playing on to Pandit as FPs slid to 59 for 3.
Proud joined Penman and they played with high class to boost the score to 104, Penman’s sizable army of followers in the crowd cheering on his every run. He had reached 26 when he failed to get over a clip to square leg and Pandit snapped up the catch as Bashir struck. Dangerman Karan Anand joined Proud but he fell 3rd ball in the same manner as Penman as suddenly FPs looked on shaky ground at 116 for 5.
However, FPs’ long batting line-up was to prove decisive as Conner McKinney joined Proud and they ran Gordonians ragged. While dispatching and bad balls to the boundary they also grabbed a lot of quick singles and turned 1s into 2s. Proud was particularly severe on any short bowling and twice launched maximums over mid-wicket. With the keen running, there was always the chance of a run-out and McKinney could not beat Mehta’s throw finally falling for 52 from 39 balls in an innings that really lifted FPs. His 5 boundaries were all high-class shots, with one cover drive particularly impressive.
Mahesh Challa arrived up the order at 8 in the hunt for quick runs, but he could not match last week’s strike rate of 600, dipping to 100 this week, being bowled 4th ball for 4 by Perera. Mapplebeck arrived at 9 and some good running with Proud helped FPs past 200. Proud finally fell run out by a direct hit from the boundary having changed his mind on a 2nd run, with Shandari bang on target. It was a sad way to go, but he had done a lot of damage with 62 from 59 hitting 2 sixes and 5 fours. Nattrass came in at the very low 10 and he and Mapplebeck scrambled some late runs, Mapplebeck also being run out of the last ball trying for an improbable 2nd. It meant FPs finished on a formidable 210 for 9.
With a good score on the board, FPs knew the game was theirs with early wickets. They soon had 4 and one hand on the trophy. After Swiergon spilled a tough chance at 3rd slip off Proud, opener Hegde (2) again fenced at one outside off stump and Morrison gathered well behind the stumps. Mapplebeck then removed the other opener Barman (9), who took on Mapplebeck’s bouncer but spliced high to Proud at mid-wicket who gathered easily. Bashir and Mehta then had a miscommunication and the ever-alert Challa fired a throw to Morrison who had Bashir well short for 13. It got even better for FPs as Mapplebeck then bowled Mehta for 3 as FPs got well on top.
The 5th wicket wasn’t long in coming, another runout, this time Pandit who took on Mapplebeck whose throw was powerful but a bit wide, but Morrison did well to gather and break the wicket in one motion to have the batsmen inches short of his ground. Any hopes of a quick victory were blunted by a resolute stand between Patel and Vitthala but on the stroke of drinks, Vitthala drove Knudson straight to McKinney at short cover who claimed the catch. Bhandari joined Patel but could only muster 10 as Anand out foxed bim to have him plumb LBW for 11. Skipper Shaikh had not given up hope and he helped Patel to his 50 as Gordonians battled on.
The rate was climbing every ball and was at 12 an over when Mapplebeck made a double strike to put FPs on the brink of victory, an expert leg cutter foxing Patel for 50 and then clean bowling Perera for 8. Proud then returned to claim the final wicket clean bowling Shaikh for a determined 23. It had been an excellent bowling performance with Mapplebeck 4 for 26 from 8 well supported by Proud 6.4-1-24-2, Knudson 8-028-1, Challa 8-034-0, and Anand 7-0-34-1. The fielding was also excellent with Nattrass and Penman patrolling the boundaries keenly and McKinney exceptional at cover despite a damaged hand.
The game was played in an excellent spirit and was all a good advertisement for Grades cricket, with a healthy crowd, a good surface, and excellent umpiring. With a whole season missed in 2020 it was a fitting game for the grades showpiece match. Gordonians played their part in a good game of cricket.
FPs celebrated long into the night after skipper Rob Swiergon had lifted the trophy, his 2nd trophy as skipper following the league triumph in 2017.
Man of the Match
Both Conner McKinney for his batting and fielding and Fraser Proud for his batting and bowling were strong contenders, with proud getting the nod from the umpires
The final wicket from Proud to clinch the trophy.
Thanks again to Gilles Gardner for the pictures, the 1st batch is available here AGFPs Cricket – Aberdeenshire Cup Final – 22 August 2021 | Flickr
ScorecardScorecard - Aberdeenshire Cup Final