ST GEORGE’S 123-7 lost to DORCHESTER CASUALS 126-3 by seven wickets

DORCHESTER Casuals strolled to the Doug Read Cup title with a masterful victory over St George’s at Dorchester Rec.

Billy Baker’s side set up the victory with a controlled bowling performance backed up by a nerveless chase in which his side rarely needed to step out of second gear.

The cup triumph is the first piece of silverware locked down in what could be a double for Casuals, given their top-of-the-table status in Division One of the Dorchester & District Evening League.

Saints’ skipper Brian Keegan won the toss and chose to bat first but his side found the going tough against accurate seam bowling from Dan Belt (0-19) and Billy Baker (1-26).

Openers Callan Laws (10) and Pete Russell both struggled to up the scoring rate, which languished around five runs per over for much of the innings.

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Laws nicked Baker behind to wicketkeeper Jim Ryall with the score on 16, but Russell did his best to find some fluency with five boundaries in his 38-ball knock.

He was eventually pinned leg before by Krish Subramanian (1-19), the wily India Over-50s left-arm spinner continuing to squeeze the run rate.

New batter Adam Moss smashed a majestic six over long-off and did a good job of rotating the strike before he became one of five victims for Simon Mitchem.

Mitchem, bowling a mixture of cutters and varying his pace to good effect, tempted Moss (32) out of his ground where Ryall was waiting for the stumping.

George’s were now on 95-3 and needed late impetus from Matt Randell, whose 27 from 18 balls included a monster six over long-on.

However, he holed out off Mitchem as Gautham Rajendar took a steepler on the boundary edge.

Saints were looking set for a competitive total if they could generate a productive final over but instead Mitchem claimed three more wickets to book magnificent figures of 5-29.

Dorset Echo: Simon Mitchem claimed 5-29 to earn the man-of-the-match accoladeSimon Mitchem claimed 5-29 to earn the man-of-the-match accolade (Image: NEIL WALTON)

Having been restricted to 123-7, the target of 124 always looked too small to bother Casuals and so it proved.

Opener Jon Legg had the luxury of playing himself in, even after the early departure of Scott Peach (4) who edged to fly slip off Ross Baker (1-22).

Legg joined forces with Rajendar and the duo ensured the innings bubbled in and around the required rate without ever extending themselves.

Rajendar was the more forceful of the two and showed an exciting array of shots, including a ramp and a cannon of a pull shot which both led to boundaries.

His running between the wickets was also exemplary but for one ill-judged occasion which caught Legg (29) out as Jamie Barrett swooped for a run out.

Casuals were then 69-2 but although Rich Cole (1-25) bowled a tight line and length, castling Harry Jones (4), the Saints still needed a hatful of wickets.

Instead, they would not take another as Belt (28no) and Rajendar (45no) made serene progress to the target, Belt crashing the winning runs through cover to clinch the cup.

Winning skipper Baker told Echosport: “They got off to a slow start and we made it difficult by setting the right fields.

“Krish and Leggy were brilliant in the middle, really squeezed it and forced them to go for it more. They started losing wickets and it was definitely an under-par score.

“Once we got to the 13th or 14th over we were comfortable. G, Belty and Leggy all did the business with the bat and I didn’t expect anything less, I knew they’d be up to it.”

And Baker also had a final word on man-of-the-match Mitchem after his five-wicket haul.

“Si was brilliant,” he said. “We spoke to him before and asked him whether he was bowling pace or spin.

“He decided pace off and it almost seemed the slower he bowled the better he bowled.”