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7 Sep

Top Gun 2016

Top Gun is a project run by The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation with the aim of finding the fastest club bowler in the county. In the final, each participant has three deliveries, with the prize going to the bowler who clocks the fastest speed. This year, the project is delivered in partnership with the Liam Plunkett Fast Bowling Academy.

The 3 finalists competed on the pitch in front of a full house at Headingley during the interval of the One Day International between England V Pakistan. After a quick warm up in the players training nets, they made their way to the outfield to get started.

The participants:

Name: Harry Stow
Age: 20
Club: Harrogate CC
Fastest Ball: 85mph

Name: Muhammed Bilal
Age: 20
Club: New Farnley CC
Fastest Ball: 82mph

Name: Chris Harwood
Age: 21
Club: Bechkwithshaw CC
Fastest Ball: 86mph

Last year, Woodlands CC’s Elliot Richardson set a Top Gun record clocking a superb 81mph. A speed that saw him take the 2016 title.

Muhammad Bilal had the first ball of this year’s final and had the chance to put the pressure on his compatriots. He delivered with an opening ball of 80mph. A good start, however Stow had other ideas and promptly fired down an 83mph thunderbolt to surpass the 2015 winning speed. At the end of round 1, Stow retained the lead after Harwood could only uster 79mph.

Round 2 saw Bilal improve to 81mph and Stow match his opening delivery of 83mph, however it was Harwood who seemed to gain his rhythm, improving by 3mph up to 82mph.

Into round 3; Stow lead with 83mph with Harwood and Bilal just 1mph and 2mph slower respectively.

Bilal steamed in and maintained his pattern of improvement, moving to 82mph. A more than impressive effort but, on this occasion he would not take the title. With Harwood on his coat tails, Stow knew he needed to step up the target. Before event compere, Mark Chapman had the chance to declare Stow’s speed, the crowds reaction indicated an improvement – 85mph! An incredible effort from the Harrogate CC pace man.

Last ball of the competition – Harwood needed to improve by another 2mph just to tie Stow. The crowd around Headingley, now completely absorbed by the duel watched the big screen as he entered his delivery stride and fired down his final thunderbolt. They was an audible gasp from the crowd as the speed was displayed and confirmed by Mark Chapman; a scintillating 86mph!

Harwood had snatched victory in surely the most competitive and highest standard Top Gun final in the competition’s short history.

Each competitor received shorts, a T-shirt, a hoodie, socks and a brand new pair of cricket shoes provided by New Balance. Winner, Chris Harwood from Beckwithshaw CC also wins a one-to-one fast bowling session with Liam Plunkett.

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