Following the first visit in 2009 our under 14 squad was keen and optimistic when setting off for a four team tournament in early July 2010. Teams involved this year were Denmark East, Denmark West, Penicuik, from Scotland, and ourselves.
Our first match saw Denmark West off to a comfortable start, reaching 60 for 1 after 13 overs. However, the situation changed rapidly as James Barker removed five batsmen in the space of five overs for only 8 runs. Two important catches were held by Tim Cullen. From their strong position they collapsed to 87 for 8 at the close of their 25 overs. This total presented only a modest challenge for our batsmen and we reached our target for the loss of only two wickets in the 20th over.
The second match, against Penicuik, provided a tougher challenge. Winning the toss Luxembourg batted first. Timothy Barker hammered six fours and two sixes in a quick 53, at which point he was retired. William Cope and James Barker attacked strongly and, with 33 and 31 respectively, added 73 for the second wicket. This brought the innings to a close on 164 for 2.
A devastating spell from Charlie Ramsden, taking 4 for 16, helped by four catches from Timothy Barker, soon ruined any hopes that the Scots might reach their target. Although two batsmen made decent scores there was never any doubt that Luxembourg would win. The innings closed on 149 for 8, leaving us winners by 15 runs.
Denmark East were our next opponents. An opening stand of 85 looked threatening but they were unable to accelerate towards the end of the innings. While wickets remained intact they closed on only 139 for 1 from their 25 overs.
Another aggressive 50 from Timothy Barker, in which all but eight of his runs came from boundaries, ensured that we maintained the required run rate. After his retirement wickets fell steadily but James Barker, with 27, supported by the middle order of Mark Radley, Tim Cullen and Alex Martin, chipped away at the target and victory, by four wickets, came with two overs to spare.
As winners of the round robin stage we played Denmark West again for a place in the final. Another confident start saw them reach 79 for 1 after 11 overs. However, the departure of their captain led to a dramatic change and from 92 for 2 they again collapsed, to 103 all out. The last five wickets all fell on this score. Marcus Cope and Mark Radley took the bowling honours, with 3 for 6 and 3 for 3 respectively, aided by nine catches, three of which were taken by Alex Martin and two, plus a stumping, by William Cope.
A place in the final was the incentive for a successful run chase. Steady progress was required and Charlie Ramsden’s watchful innings soon ensured that this would be a formality. Victory came by 8 wickets in the 22nd over, with Charlie unbeaten on 34.
The final, with 30 overs per side, matched us, unsurprisingly, against Penicuik. Batting first, we were again indebted to Timothy Barker, scoring his third fifty of the tournament, and another ten boundaries to his name. After his retirement the other batsmen, particularly William Cope, with 18, which included three boundaries off successive balls, and Alex Martin, with 14, all contributed to a final score of 167 for 7.
Our hopes of a repeat of the first match were unfortunately not realised. Penicuik made a very confident start and, despite some good ground fielding, we were unable to make a breakthrough until the score had passed a hundred. A second wicket fell at 139 but Penicuik were able to coast home by 8 wickets with six overs to spare.
Despite this defeat the team can look back on another highly successful tournament, with four victories from five matches. Everyone contributed: the 19 catches, from seven fielders, and 3 stumpings showed the quality of the fielding; seven bowlers took wickets; four different batsmen scored over 30. These figures demonstrate the development of a strong squad within Luxembourg youth cricket.