THE Three Little Pigs are Sandford Cricket Club’s Community League Champions for the first time after beating Sandford Football Club in an engrossing final at Creedy Park last Sunday (July 2), in front of a large crowd.

Congratulations to them, and well deserved it was, as they had gone through the whole season unbeaten. Ironically, up until this year, they were the only team who had played in the competition since it first started, which had never won it.

Now it means every team that has ever entered has won it at least once. That’s what Community League Cricket is all about.

In the final itself, the Football Club batted first, and after a brisk start with Tipper Lyon smacking a quickfire 27 before retiring, along with Jamie Forrest (23), the middle order found runs difficult to accumulate, and in the end they were restricted to only 108 from their 100 balls. Josh Woodland and Jack James both claiming a couple of wickets each.

Although 108 appeared to be a below par score, teams had found it difficult scoring runs all day, mainly due to playing on a grass wicket instead of the usual astro-turf they were generally used to. Hence the Pigs, whilst confident they could score the runs, were still a little apprehensive.

A steady, but unspectacular start from openers Jack James (21) and Will French (25 retired), gave them a sound base on which to build their reply, but it was Josh Davey’s innings of 26 (retired) that laid the foundation for victory, in particular as he smacked 10 off his last two deliveries at a crucial stage in the game, that suddenly took any advantage away from the Footie boys.

Alex Stevens with 21 not out from a handful of balls, including two fours and two sixes, saw his team home with 13 balls remaining, and the Pigs celebrations began big time.

In fairness they were the best team in the competition this year, and fully deserved their victory.

They also won the "most entertaining" team award, which to be fair, they would win every year anyhow, as they are a complete load of "nutters". Congratulations to Ben Wonnacott and his team. Well done lads.

Earlier in the day, the last set of "round robin" games had to be completed to see who would meet the Pigs in the final – they had already qualified prior to finals day having previously been undefeated, and in doing so had already gained enough points to be in the final.

And it was the Pigs who started the day’s proceedings when they took on the Dads and Lads team.

Dads and Lads batted first, but never really got going, and it was left to young Jake Kibby, who looks a fine prospect, to smack 29 (retired), and in doing so, thanks to lots of extras (28), to get his team’s total up to 105 from their 100 balls.

Jack James, who transferred to the Pigs this year from the D and L team, claimed three for nine in the last over of the D and L innings.

In response it was Jack James again who got his side off to a decent start with 22, but with wickets falling steadily, at 55 for six, things weren’t looking great for the Pigs. Enter their trusty skipper, Ben Wonnacott, and a quickfire 24 from him saw his side home with 14 balls to spare at 106 for seven. For the D and L team, young Jack Perry wheeled his slowies, and in doing so grabbed an honourable 3-17 at the start of the Pigs innings.

The second game of the day was probably going to be the most important game before the final itself, as it pitched the Crediton Rugby Club up against the Sandford Football Club.

Both teams could have still reached the final, and it was more-or-less a case of whichever team won, would then play in the final.

Obviously from the first part of this editorial, the Football Club proved to be the victors, and in doing so knocked the reigning champions out of this year’s competition.

The Rugby Club, with a number of guest players due to an abundance of unavailable regulars, batted first, but could only muster 87 for eight from their 100 balls.

Only youngster Elliott Butterfield was able to reach the obligatory 25 before retiring, and with Luke Knight claiming a respectable 3-14 from his three overs and Brad Elliott also weighing in with 2-9 from his three, the Rugby Club were never able to really get going. Rugby Club’s score in fairness, included a last wicket stand of 25 to get them to their eventual total. No doubt they’ll be eager to come back strong again next year.

Football Club made easy work of their response, and with Dean Pidgeon cracking 25, victory was achieved with 18 balls remaining. However, Skipper Nathan Keast proved he is definitely no batsman, with the worst 0 not out in the history of Community League cricket. He even made Adam Voisey look a good bat. At least Voise used to get out quickly.

The final match of the League season saw Graphic pitch up against the "most improved" team this year – Crediton Milling. Buzzing after their two previous wins earlier in the campaign, the Mill men were looking to make it three.

Batting first the Mill were given a solid start. After the loss of an early wicket, Dave Small, 30 retired (including two sixes, and unusually 18 singles) and Will White 25 retired (three fours and a six), were further supported by Riley Burgess with 21.

Their eventual score of 104 for four looked a little light, but Graphic contrived to find ways of getting out, as is their won’t, and apart from skipper Andy Hookway - 34 - who having retired at 25, was allowed back in when the rest of his teammates got out, and Matt Dyne with 20 no, they were only able to get to 88 before being bowled out (unusual in CL cricket, unless you play for Graphic)!!

And so after all league games had been played the Pigs were lying in first place with nine points from their five games (one cancelled), Football Club second with eight, Crediton Milling third with six, Rugby Club fourth with five, Graphic fifth with one and Dads and Lads sixth also with one, but with an inferior run rate.

On behalf of Sandford Cricket Club, thanks to all who took part again this year, including the Club’s players and officials who either umpired or scored all the games, and of course Nicky Radnor for her after match meals.

Another highly successful Finals Day was brought to an honourable conclusion by Sue Sparham presenting Ben Wonnacott with the Barrie Sparham OBE Memorial Trophy in honour of her late husband, who would have been a staunch advocate of such a competition. Thank you one and all. See you next year no doubt.

Phil Matten