1 September 2014
By Charles Randall
Jason Roy's call-up to England's T20 squad came as a welcome piece of news for Reigate Priory before their postponed Conference Cup final against Bromley at Ealing on Sunday 7 September.
Even as a settled member of the Surrey side Roy made himself available for Reigate in the Surrey Championship whenever he could, and even played a match as recently as July when his 54 in 51 balls helped to dispatch Spencer at Wandsworth, not far from the Oval. In 2013 Roy played four times, including an innings of 124 off 88 balls at Guildford, which heralded his magnificent T20 season for Surrey in 2014.
Though Roy is unlikely to be available, Reigate go into the final of The Conference Cup, sponsored by Barbados Tourist Authority (BTA) and Smile Group Travel, as overwhelming favourites. Bromley have experienced a bitter-sweet ending to the season with a great cup run and a dice with relegation after five successive defeats in the Kent Premier League.
By contrast Reigate enjoyed a relaxed few weeks before the Cup final after wrapping up the Surrey Championship well ahead of schedule. Michael Burgess rammed home the title with 141 not out off 124 balls at home against the hapless Spencer in a 49-run victory. This left Spencer in relegation trouble, exacerbated by their subsequent home defeat by fellow strugglers Valley End in the penultimate round. Alex MacQueen's reviving 110 not out, his two wickets and a run-out settled that game.
Reigate's phenomenal season left Wimbledon leading the way for second place after recently shooting out bottom club Banstead for 39, with Darren Hooey taking 4-7 in a win by 187 runs. Valley End, winners of The Conference Cup in 2012, meet Banstead in the final game, knowing that victory will keep them in the division.
Bromley enter The Conference Cup final with their Kent League fate settled one way or the other. Their 52-run defeat by leaders Sevenoaks Vine dashed their hopes of springing clear of relegation, so that, with one weekend left, they remained just ahead of Canterbury above the already doomed Bickley Park. A dominating 136 by John Bowden for Sevenoaks ensured that the home side never looked likely to end their run of defeats. The margin would have been much bigger without a defiant 71 not out off 65 balls by Nick Bluett, which at least provided a crumb of comfort for the finalists before their big weekend.
That defeat meant that Lordswood and Sevenoaks had trampled on Bromley on consecutive Saturdays in their dash for the league title alongside fellow contenders Hartley Country Club. Blackheath's seven-wicket home defeat by Beckenham ruled out their chances, another blow after their agonising one-run defeat in The Conference Cup. If Bromley avoid relegation, they can look forward to the final in good heart, having won the Evening Standard Challange Trophy in 2005.
This is the sixth year of The Conference Cup run by the Club Cricket Conference. It is the successor to the Evening Standard Challange Trophy, which originated in 1992. Winners of The Conference Cup have been, Finchley, Wanstead, Lordswood, Valley End, and Waltham.