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South Dartmoor made history when their boys and girls Under 15 cricket teams both won the National title on the same day! The teams travelled to Northamptonshire County Cricket ground, and had to adjust their mindset and tactics when the awful weather conditions at the start of the day, meant that the ECB switched the 8-a-side format games to the Lynn Wilson Indoor Cricket Centre at the Northants academy.

The Boys competition was the first of the day, and the South Dartmoor lads nervously watched the opening semi, before going on in the second semi to face Hutton Grammar School from Preston, who had won the North regional competition. The format of the Chance to Shine 8-a-side competitions is that all players except the wicket keeper must bowl an over. Captain Nat Saturley opened the bowling with a superb over, Hutton Grammar taking just 3 runs off it. However, with a costly 13 off the next over they put themselves back on track for a decent total. Tight overs from Dan Cowdry, Josh Orrell and Harold Retallick and excellent fielding meant after 5 overs the score was 37 for 5. Charlie Nichols then took two great wickets, and it was left to the ever reliable Jake Davey to finish off the ‘last man standing’ wicket with one ball to spare. The Grammar school’s total was 44 all out.

In reply South Dartmoor got off to a good start from opening batters Orrell and Cowdry, and were always above the required run rate. Charlie Nichols then weighed in with some attacking shots including a glorious 6, and South Dartmoor surpassed the opposition’s total in the fifth over - but there was no time for celebrations as the team were straight on again in the National Final!

Birmingham’s Washwood Heath Academy were their opponents, and the Midlands Champions won the toss and elected to bat. It was a similar start with Saturley going for just 4 runs in the first over, but with 14 scored off the second the pressure was back on the South Dartmoor bowlers. Once again, Cowdry, Orrell and Retallick bowled tightly, but the 6th over from Nichols went for just 5 runs, and he took also 3 wickets to really restrict the Washwood Heath batsmen. Davey bowled the final over and took two more wickets and the opposition finished on 55 for 6 from their 7 overs.

The National Final was always going to be a tough game, but South Dartmoor’s batsmen were equal to the task. Orrell and Cowdry got them off to a good start, and when Orrell was run out, Nichols came in and immediately scored runs, including another formidable 6. Wickets fell with a couple of run outs when the Dartmoor batsmen were looking to push the score on , and finally the team were left needing 7 off the last over. They chipped away at the score intelligently, and then with one ball to spare Reuben Stanley and Harold Retallick got the vital runs and South Dartmoor were crowned National Champions! 

Next it was the turn of the South Dartmoor Girls whose Under 15 team took the Chance to Shine title in 2015, so the team had the unenviable task of trying to retain the trophy. They were put into bat against Blythe Bridge School from Staffordshire who had won the Midlands regional title. Opening batters Rachael Fee and Abi Carroll looked nervous at first, but grew into the game and pushed the score along averaging 9 an over. As confidence grew they pushed the score on, with some aggressive running, and Fee was eventually out after an excellent 19 runs. The final team score was 83 for 5 wickets from South Dartmoor’s allotted 7 overs. 

The excellent total meant that Blythe Bridge needed 12 per over to prevent South Dartmoor from reaching their second National Final of the day. A tight first over with excellent fielding went for just 4 runs and the pressure was on the batters. A great over from Rosie Foster left the opposition on 40 runs off 5 overs, and when Cornelia McHugh took a brilliant catch it was a bridge too far for the Blythe team. Bowler Caitlin Wright kept it tight in the last over and South Dartmoor were into the Final! 

In the National 2016 Final South Dartmoor faced Enfield County School, the East/South Champions who were feeling confident having disposed of previous National Champions Ormskirk in the semi-final. Once again South Dartmoor batted first, with Fee and Carroll getting the team off to a flying start, running 21 off the first two overs. Fee was out, but Captain Jess Cooper came in and flew onto the attack hitting the first 6 seen in the girls competition of the day! She had to retire on an unbeaten 21, and Carroll was then rewarded with her 20 and so also had to retire. After 6 overs South Dartmoor had an excellent 81, and finished with 91 for just 2 wickets, an incredible score. 

That left Enfield needing to chase down a big score and they went for it. However, some excellent fielding, including a great Rachael Fee catch, and an outrageous run out from Cooper really kept the score down. First Abi Froom bowled a very good over, followed by Foster who also claimed a vital wicket. With 29 to win off the last over, Caitlin Wright showed great calmness and maturity to bowl the best over of the day, a maiden which meant that South Dartmoor were jubilant in taking the National title. 

Last year South Dartmoor were one of only two state school to feature in “The Cricketer” magazine’s Top 100 schools in the country, and were rewarded with a prestigious game against the MCC.  Cricket features as part of the post 16 Sports Academy alongside Basketball, Football, Rugby and Hockey in which the school have also been National Champions. 

The College’s Director of Sport, Steve Dinnie paid tribute the players who pulled off the ‘Double’, and also praised the staff who have enabled this to happen, “We believe that sport is vitally important to enrich the lives of the young people at South Dartmoor, and the passionate staff have all worked tirelessly to give these fantastic opportunities to the students, and to inspire them to achieve at the very highest levels”