Crowned T20 Champions for the third year running

A final that had it all saw RBCC take on Hasselt CC where Duckworth Lewis had the potential to threaten our desired outcome!

So after a good win against Ostend in the semi-final, all that stood between RBCC bringing the T20 trophy home for the 3rd consecutive year, was a fine looking Hasselt side that had comfortably defeated Kortrijk in the semi finals. Sporting a strong bowling attack and some players capable of dealing some lusty blows in their batting line-up, there was belief in the RBCC camp that while we would go in as favourites, this game could not be taken lightly. Add to this the near certainty weather would play some part in the proceedings we approached the game as best we could.

True to form, Brighton again lost the toss (3 in a row), resulting in RBCC being asked to bat in still reasonable conditions though with a feeling the weather had held up quite well given the forecast but would not be compliant for much longer.

Muneeb and Brighton again opened the batting together but this time there would be no repeat of a big first wicket stand as Muneeb was caught early on for 2 bringing Mishi to join Brighton at the crease. With some not overly cavalier batting, RBCC were going at a comfortable 8 runs an over before Brighton was dismissed LBW for 25 bringing Waqas to join Mishi at the crease. Waqas unfortunately was not to stay long at the crease, caught for 2, bringing Khurram into the fray earlier than usual. What to say, except that Khurram did as Khurram does. Bringing his full array of cavalier calypso-style cricket to the fore, he proceeded to decimate the Hasselt bowling attack. With Mishi wisely playing an uncharacteristic support role, Khurram proceeded to make hay, ending up with what looked like what would be a match winning knock of 70 off 39 balls. Mishi´s contribution of 29 was the 2nd highest score in the RBC innings and Alex and Manuj with smaller contributions seeing RBCC complete their 20 overs with 165 runs on the board.

Job half done, and RBCC took to the field to try bring the game home but of course mother nature had to have a say. Brighton and Waqas opened the bowling but before very long the rain arrived. Drizzling at first, RBCC had to wait for Muneeb and Wasooq to take the first 3 wickets, Hasselt doing their best to give themselves a chance by dealing some lusty blows but losing some key batsmen in the process. With one eye keenly focussed on the ever approaching darker clouds of potential calamity, and the other firmly planted on the scoreboard, skipper Brighton watched as Hasselt managed to remain almost on par with their asking rate throughout the drizzle until the storm clouds eventually opened and the game got poured down on after 11 overs. At this point Hasselt had scored 89 runs, 3 short of what would be required should the match be abandoned. A tense 45 minutes would result, with the rain bucketing down, and looking like there would be no way this game would be completed and RBCC would be crowned champions for the 3rd year in a row.

This seemed like a massive anti-climax given the game was so evenly balanced at this point. There would be no joy in the RBCC camp winning in this manner. But as so often happens in Belgium, the weather broke and with teams and supporters all helping in trying to dry the pitch, a window of opportunity opened to at least try and finish the game. In conditions that would have in almost any other game in Belgium resulted in the match being abandoned and RBCC winning on run rate, umpires and captains (after some back and forth), agreed to play an extra 7 overs with Hasselt requiring a revised total of 149. In failing light and still with the threat of more rain the teams set about their task and Hasselt came back to the crease swinging.

For the next 4 overs or so Hasselt were equal to their task and it looked like this really would go down to the wire. A couple of dropped catches and bad overs did not augur so well for RBCC but a crucial double change in the bowling, bringing on Hutchie from one end and skipper completing his remaining overs bowling spin completely took the sting out of the Hasselt batting attack. Losing their 2 remaining hitters in a matter of 8 balls proved too much and what had been a spirited chase for 16 overs was eventually brought to a halt. Entering the final over Hasselt required 27 runs and never looked like getting close with Waqas bowling with some heat in the fading light and RBCC were left again at the pinnacle of the Belgium T20 competition for the 3rd year in it´s 4 year history. Well done to the whole RBCC team, and a special thank-you to all the supporters who came and helped spur the team on. It´s been another brilliant result for the club and hey, why not go for a 4th consecutive title next year?

Written by Brighton Watambwa