History made as Sharp's Cornwall side lift first Minor Counties title
September 12, 2012, will forever be remembered in Cornish cricket history as the day the county finally became Minor Counties champions of England.
The moment came just before noon yesterday, when a stunning collapse by opponents Buckinghamshire left Cornwall winners of the four-day final by 150 runs to end a wait that began in 1904.
For those long involved with Cornish cricket, it was quite an emotional moment, and one many thought they would never see.
Memories of finishing at the bottom of the Western Division annually in the 1980s were a distant memory as captain Tom Sharp received the trophy and pennant from MCCA president Alan Wilson.
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The occasion was in front of a very healthy gathering who had turned up hoping to witness a moment of Cornish sporting history. They were not disappointed – and how appropriate that it was played out on Cornish soil.
Cornwall's win continues the domination of the competition by the Westcountry counties. Two years ago, Cornwall's last-day win over Berkshire handed the title to Dorset. Last year, the baton was passed on to Devon.
Buckinghamshire started the day needing a further 169 runs, with seven wickets left, and from Cornwall's view early wickets were preferable.
They did not have to wait long as Michael Payne edged Shakil Ahmed's final ball of the first over to David Roberts at slip, without adding to his overnight 33.
David Cranfield-Thompson (three) was bowled in Ahmed's next over – just the start the Duchy wanted. It got even better two overs later when visiting skipper Jason Harrison, who batted for the best part of two hours in the first innings, was leg before to Ahmed for a duck.
Then, sensationally, three wickets fell in seven balls with the score at 101. Shaftab Khalid was caught by Tom Hughes off Sharp and Ahmed, bowling from the city end, accounted for Joel Pope and Faisal Ali in the same over.
The cue for celebrations had to wait just a bit as the last pair of Doug King and Simon Stanway survived six overs, adding ten runs. The moment came, however, when Stanway was, fittingly, held by Sharp at third slip. Within seconds the skipper was surrounded by joyous team-mates for a moment they will never forget.
Ahmed ended with seven for 36 off 21.4 overs, while Sharp took two for 36 from a remarkable 33 overs.
With match figures of ten for 109, Ahmed was named man of the match by the match referee, Phil Caley.
In truth, the MCCA chairman of cricket could have named a number of Cornish heroes, with Sharp, Chris Hunkin and Neil Curnow all making major contributions to the famous triumph.
Sharp said: "It was a brilliant effort from the boys. After three attritional days the game was in the balance but wickets fell in clusters in the match, and once they started falling this morning that was it."