The final of the Boddington’s Challenge Cup, postponed due to rain last Sunday, duly took place at Whittingham last Sunday, 19th June and Hoppers claimed the trophy for the second time, the last as long ago as 1995.
In a tight game against improving Ribchester, who had beaten Fulwood & Broughton in a delayed semi-final earlier in the day, Hoppers successfully defended a total of 165 with some accurate bowling to come out winners by 16 runs.
Batting first, Hoppers started well, helped by a few wides, which count as 4, but, as the bowling tightened up and against athletic fielding, they were a little disappointed to post the rather modest total of 165 which appeared well within Ribchester’s reach. B W Williams (20) and Richard Morton (21, including 3 successive and massive straight sixes) both retired while John Chesworth and Richie Sands both on 18 and Glen Steel with 13 also chipped in. The fielding side appeared to bring on their best bowler as 10th choice as Gani returned 5-4 in his two overs, although Hoppers were going all out to maximize their score.
Ribchester started slowly but looked to be favourites as the opening pair put on 51 for the first wicket and opener Tavares (22) and No.3 Gani (21) both retired. Despite spilling 4 catches, Hoppers gradually put a stranglehold on the scoring rate with some accurate bowling and, as wickets fell, Ribchester fell further and further behind the rate required, leaving themselves 46 to get off the last 4 overs. Perhaps taking a leaf out of their opponents’ book, two of these were bowled by Marc Balshaw who took one wicket in conceding just 8 runs.