A brilliant lower-order rally by Combermere helped the Waterford school secure their fifth Sir Garfield Sobers Schools International Cricket Championship at Kensington Oval yesterday.
Combermere beat English team Lancaster Grammar School by three wickets in a gripping low-scoring affair that ended just after 4 p.m.
Replying to Lancaster’s modest 154 all out off 37.2 overs, Combermere reached 156 for seven off 35.4 overs in the 40 overs-a-side match.
A victory that seemed a foregone conclusion following a remarkable batting collapse by Lancaster seemed in doubt as Combermere struggled against Lancaster’s combination of medium pace and off spin.
In the end it took the composure and forthrightness of the lower order to steer Combermere to their first championship in the tournament since 2006 when they completed a hat-trick of titles. They also won the very first tournament back in 1987.
When opener Shayne Moseley and Shane Proverbs were putting together a second-wicket partnership of 31 Combermere appeared to be cruising.
Moseley had already dropped anchor at one end when the classy Proverbs got off the mark with an exquisite cover drive for four.
He followed it with an equally delightful drive to the extra cover boundary and confirmed his competence though the off side with a confident drive for three to long off, all in one over off fast bowler Jack Brown.
The introduction of medium pacer James Roberts (two for 35) and off spinner Dan Chambers, whose solitary wicket cost just 14 from eight overs, changed the complexion of the game as Combermere lost wickets in a cluster.
Amongst the casualties was skipper Moseley, caught by keeper Sam Moorby running towards short fine leg to pouch an attempted sweep as Combermere declined to 85 for four.
Brandon King perished cheaply in an attempt to counter attack and when off-spinner Tom Whitehouse trapped John Banfield lbw to reduce Combermere to 101 for six in the 27th over, Lancaster seemed on course to be the first English school to win the title since Canford back in 1995.
Once again Combermere produced a performance in keeping with their high reputation. Kevon Wiltshire blasted his team back into a commanding position slamming three sixes and two fours in 29 off 19 balls.
He started by despatching a long hop from leg-spinner Alex Metcalfe over midwicket for six. Next ball, he drove straight for four and added another couple sixes in an over that produced 22 runs.
Fast bowler Jonathan Wells returned to remove him, caught by a diving Jack Brown at mid-wicket but by then the damage was done.
Matthew Jones joined Dreu Glasgow (13 not out) who had been the silent, but effective partner to Wiltshire. He played a similar role as Jones looked to attack.
Jones lifted Brown to the long off boundary and expertly exploited gaps in the field as Combermere closed in on the target achieved with 4.2 overs left.
Earlier, Lancaster’s innings was built around a second-wicket stand of 92 between captain Mark Walling and wicketkeeper/batsman Moorby.
The pair came together in the sixth over when Moorby’s opening partner Alex Metcalfe was run out with the score on 18.
Moorby and his captain rebuilt the innings in contrasting fashion, Moorby, patient and watchful; Walling, enterprising and purposeful.
In a partnership that spanned 23 overs, the pair provided the foundation for an onslaught that never materialized.
The turnaround was triggered when Walling was run out after scoring 60 off 70 balls, an innings that included three sixes and three fours.
Combermere regained the initiative as nine wickets tumbled for 44 runs, six of them equally spilt between King (three for 38) and Moseley (three for 29).
King bowled Moorby after the opener had spent 100 deliveries compiling 37 and also accounted for Brown who made a breezy 24 off 25 balls.