Tilley keeps his nerve to help Belmont & Edgware beat Uxbridge Casuals



Ben Tilley showed an ice-cool head with a brilliant final over to seal a one-run victory for Belmont & Edgware in a nail-biter against Uxbridge Casuals.

Belmont arrived at Uxbridge - a Middlesex outground - and were promptly told that they were using the main square, where a county T20 had been hosted a few weeks beforehand.

Following recent form, BECC captain Adam Jacobs lost the toss and was put into bat - a decision he didn't particularly mind, given that this would have been his preference in any case.

On a lightning fast outfield, Belmont openers Elliot and Phil Mayer soon found that even a light push would run away to the boundary and rapidly accelerated to 21 in the third over until Phil struck in front deep in his crease and was adjudged lbw.

That brought Jacobs, who had promoted himself a position, to the crease. He settled in quickly and attacked from the off, hitting one particularly lusty off drive off Abbas, Uxbridge's pacy opening bowler.

With Elliott anchoring the innings and rotating the strike beautifully, BECC raced to 109 off just 17 overs. During that period Jacobs hit his 50 off just 31 balls as he tucked into the left arm of Senchal, in particular. Unfortunately, though soon after reaching his half century he became over-confident against the opposition's slow bowler and was bowled running down the pitch on 57.

Jacobs' dismissal stalled BECC's momentum somewhat, but the total still kept ticking along as Mann looked to build a partnership with Mayer.

However, after nurdling the ball around nicely, the former advanced down the track one too many times to Uxbridge's leg-spinner, and was stumped for 11.

BECC's predicament became even worse when Simon Taylor lost patience on four and holed out to mid-on to leave BECC at 145-4 after 24 overs.

No. 6 Nick McLeod looked in decent touch as he hit a few lusty boundaries and, in tandem with Elliott, who had by this time advanced to a patient and well-deserved half century, he looked to increase the scoring rate once again.

Nonetheless, before McLeod could do some real damage he edged to the keeper against the returning Abbas. When Elliott was bowled by the same bowler two overs later, BECC looked in real danger of squandering their start.

Tilley batted sensibly to ensure this didn't entirely happen and although Michael Blasebalk also nicked off to Hart for just 1, Greg Mayer and Jack Mendel both hit some attractive strokes to bring BECC over 200 for the third consecutive week. Nonetheless, although BECC were dismissed for 211 with eight balls remaining.

In response, opening bowler Saleh caused all manner of problems. Bowling with pace and accuracy, he had no problems dispatching both openers early on, whilst opening partner Jacobs' outswingers built up pressure. When Saleh also dispatched Uxbridge's no. 3 and 4 cheaply (the latter after he had clubbed his first ball against Saleh for a one bounce 4), Uxbridge looked like they were heading for a speedy defeat.

Things did not quite go to plan after that. Uxbridge's fifth wicket partnership demonstrated their quality as both batsmen recorded half centuries whilst putting on 140, although they were assisted by some inconsistent bowling. The bottom line was that by the 27th over, Uxbridge had advanced from 34-4 to 176-4 and looked well set for an easy win.

In desperation, Jacobs reintroduced Saleh to the attack. This was a real turning point, as he immediately induced an edge by the no.6 straight to the waiting Blasey. That meant he had taken his first five-fer for the club in what was undoubtedly his best performance.

That exposed Uxbridge's somewhat lengthy tail. When Jacobs, by this point mixing up his pace, had the dangerous no. 5 caught at mid-on for 63, BECC sensed that the game was there to be won. From there, Greg Mayer and Ben Tilley bowled superbly to restrict the batsmen and keep BECC in the game.

As the dots mounted, so the tension also increased. Belmont showed great desire and were on top form in the field to take game to the last over, although by this point Uxbridge required just four and probably still would have backed themselves to win.

However, cometh the moment, cometh the man in Ben Tilley. Having restricted the batsmen to just two runs off his first five balls, he showed nerves of steel to bowl their no. 9 off the last ball, to seal victory for Belmont by just one run.

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