April 30, 2010
STETHS rally to claim Spalding Cup
File - Paul Palmer Jr
Richard Bryan, Star Writer
Great champions react best when their backs are against the wall, and the rural Headley Cup kingpins St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) did just that, turning the tide to beat Innswood in the Spalding Cup final at home in Santa Cruz, yesterday.
The champions overcame the previous day's dicey state of affairs to score the 241 needed to win outright against the urban area Grace Shield winners.
Desmond Jones (57), Sheldon Samuels (91), captain Paul Palmer Jr ( 37 n.o.), and Vaniel Bromfield (35), scored the bulk of the target to restore the pre-eminence of a batting line-up that had collapsed dramatically on day two, slipping from a position of 199 for three to 224 all out. As the inevitability of a STETHS victory became clear, with the loss of just one wicket at the tea interval, the venue swelled with students and spectators.
In fact, the cheers were deafening when Brian Gayle who replaced Bromfield with the score on 235, nudged a single off Peat Salmon for the winning run. STETHS were probably clear favourites to win from day one, but the party-like scene showed appreciation for a remarkable comeback from the precarious first five sessions of play.
Having lost first innings honours and the game's initiative after conceding a 61-run deficit, STETHS needed an outright win to halt Innswood's lofty ambitions of winning a Spalding Cup at first attempt. However, they saved their best for yesterday's third and final day, signalling their intentions first with the ball. Standout leg spinner Donovan Nelson snared the final four wickets as Innswood were all out for 189.
Nelson had mined an amazing eight for 91 when Innswood made 285. His eventual match haul was 13 wickets for 127.
The second and most important part of their comeback, their batting, showed why they have won the Spalding Cup close to 20 times in a 30-year span. They set about defying the pitch conditions as their batsmen demonstrated the requisite discipline and technique to overhaul a total considered insurmountable for most schoolboy teams, especially batting second on a last-day wicket.
STETHS coach Clive Legister said there was a definate plan to get the batting right.
"We knew it would be difficult, that 's why we came together and really planned how we would approach it," he said.
"We bowled too short in the first innings and we batted poorly so that's why we were basically behind. To win, we had to apply ourselves and bat better in the second innings," he explained.
It did not help that Innswood had dropped early chances, or that the wicket held up well, much in the same fashion it did in the Headley Cup semi-finals, when Holmwood successfully chased down 350 against Manchester High on day three, three weeks ago.
STETHS needed to start well, and an opening partnership of 144 runs between Jones and Samuels frustrated the Innswood attack, and set the platform for what in the end turned out to be a comfortable run chase, achieved shortly after 4:30 p.m.
Innswood had given themselves some hope of a competitive total, batting for an hour to add 57 to their overnight total of 122 for six. However, once the crucial seventh wicket partnership involving Terrence Brown and Kerwin Bonner was broken, Nelson cleared the tail making way for his team's main batters to complete the job.