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Leeds & Broomfield beaten in Lord’s final
Leeds & Broomfield beaten in Lord’s final

Milford Hall are the 2023 Voneus Village Cup champions after defeating Kent’s Leeds & Broomfield by 10 runs in a low-scoring thriller at Lord’s.  

The West Midlands side looked down and out at the halfway mark after being bowled out for 139. However, Aaron Afford spun his side to victory in a topsy-turvy contest, returning player of the match-winning figures of 4 for 19 to lay the foundations for a remarkable comeback.  

Dan Betty’s side, playing in their maiden final, are the 36th team to lift the Village Cup and the first West Midlands champions to get their hands on the trophy in the competition’s 51-year history.  

Electing to bat after winning the toss, Milford Hall were in all sorts of bother inside 11 overs, with Neil Dibben and Clarry McCague taking advantage of the quick pitch and early swing.  

Dom Afford, the competition’s leading run-scorer, departed for a five-ball duck in the second over, Alex Czabaniuk taking a flying one-handed catch in the slips off Clarry McCague.  

The bowler bagged a second in his next over, trapping Tom Webb lbw, before Dibben rearranged Aaron Afford’s stumps. Stuart Phazey handed Clarry McCague his third in the eighth over, an edge carrying to wicketkeeper Chris Davis, who dived across the slips to take a tidy catch.  

Captain Betty finally gave the 600-plus Milford Hall fans something to cheer with a couple of well-timed fours, but it proved a brief cameo, with Dibben removing him lbw for 13 to leave the batting side 36 for 5. Dibben, who bowled his eight overs unchanged, finished with 2 for 16.  

That left Mark Thompson to rescue his side’s innings and the veteran allrounder enjoyed resilient partnerships with Phillip Cheadle, Harry Flowers, who flashed three fours and one six to get the Milford faithful on their feet, and Alex Stenson to push his side beyond 120. Regular interventions from spinner Ed Scrivens, however, stopped any meaningful stands from developing.  

Thompson eventually departed for 32 (71) in the 36th, Fred Roberts taking a juggling catch off Monte McCague, before Rob Firth was run out with six balls in the innings untouched.  

Defending 139, Chris Dean gifted his side the perfect start, removing Scrivens lbw off the fourth ball of the innings, before Aaron Afford let rip.  

He struck with his first ball, Monte McCague gifting Flowers the easiest of catches after needlessly going after the spinner, and soon added wickets two and three to his tally, trapping George Davis lbw and bowling Roberts in consecutive overs.  

Fellow spinner Phazey had Clarry McCague caught behind by Betty before Aaron Afford picked up his fourth – Betty taking another catch to remove Chris Davis – to leave Leeds & Broomfield teetering on 47 for 6 in the 16th.  

Momentum swung once again when Czabaniuk and James Mitchinson came together for the seventh wicket, with the pair putting on 77 runs.   

With 16 required off 30 deliveries, Betty turned to opener Dean, who made what would prove to a crucial intervention when he had Czabaniuk caught by Webb for 46 (65).  

A maiden from Phazey ramped up the pressure before Thompson and young Dom Afford wrapped up the win, taking three wickets in the final three overs to trigger pandemonium among the Milford Hall fans. 

Photo credit: Paul Carroll Photography