Richardson Triumphs in BLK Top Gun Final
On Friday 11th September, as Australian batsmen James Wade and John Hastings strolled off the pitch, followed by the England fielders, there were 4 young club bowlers waiting to stride out onto the Headingley outfield for the BLK Top Gun final.
The Yorkshire Cricket Foundation’s search to find the fastest club bowler in the county began way back in March 2015 in sports halls and on cricket pitches all around the county. The fastest 12 bowlers were invited to compete in 3 semi-finals with the fastest from each, plus the fastest runner up qualifying for the final and the chance to win BLK training kit and whites for their team in 2016, the chance to train with Yorkshire CCC and become a BLK sponsored athlete for 2016 with a £500 BLK voucher.
Below: David Amos of Pool CC
After a fantastic 2014 competition, and BLK on board as a sponsor, Top Gun 2015 attracted some fantastic pace bowling talent. The magical 80mph target had not previously been accomplished; however 4 bowlers managed to reach this target over the course of the heats and semi-finals, smashing last year’s final winning speed of 77mph set by Mark Fisher.
The four finalists, David Amos (Pool CC), Andrew Brewster (Acomb CC), James Harding (Stokesley CC) and Elliot Richardson (Woodlands CC) were separated by just 2mph, with each bowler having a genuine chance of taking the title home.
After a nervous 15 minute wait on the outfield, presenter Mark Chapman approached the bowlers. After a brief interview the wait was over and the competition got under way. Amos opened up with a delivery of 78mph, matching the speed that won him his semi-final. Brewster replied immediately, setting the target with a 79mph rocket that flew through to the keeper. Harding contributed with 78mph however it was Richardson who replied in emphatic style with an 80mph thunderbolt that immediately put the pressure on his 3 rivals.
Below: Acomb CC bowler Andrew Brewster
The second round of deliveries saw both Amos and Brewster dip to 76mph, a surprise after their opening salvos but they were maybe feeling the pressure of being watched by the Australian bowlers who had come out to warm up on an adjacent wicket. As Harding matched his opening ball with another 78mph, Aaron Finch looked on impressed. Full of confidence from the opening round, only Richardson could improve on his speed, clocking a BLK Top Gun record for an outdoor delivery with 81mph.
As the crowd engagement rose, the noise in the ground grew and the prospect of winning the competition with just one ball brought with it excitement and extra pressure for each of the competitors. Amos steamed in, managing 77mph, a speed that would have tied the lead last year; however, this year it brought just 4th place. Brewster had clocked 80mph in his semi-final and, as he sprinted in there was certainly no-one who would have backed against him repeating or improving on that speed. It was not to be though, as he equalled his best on the day of 79mph.
Below: James Harding from Stokesley CC clocked a top speed of 79mph in the final
BLK Top Gun 2015 has a great competition, with the standard and top speed of the entrants undoubtedly an improvement on last year. Elliot is a worthy winner; however his fellow finalists deserve huge credit for performing so well on such a big stage. BLK’s involvement has enhanced the competition and we look forward to going again in 2016
Nick Robinson, Yorkshire Cricket Foundation
Above: BLK Top Gun 2015 champion Elliot Richardson from Woodlands CC who clocked a record 81mph in the final
With 2 deliveries of the competition left, the only obstacle standing between Richardson, the young Woodlands CC opening bowler and the prize was 19 year old James Harding who had also hit the 80mph mark in his semi. He rose to the challenge, setting his best speed of the day of 79mph and is certainly a young bowler to look out for in future years, however this year would not be his. Already assured of victory, Richardson flew in to cement his title with another 81mph delivery much to his delight and his team mates watching on from the stands.
England bowling coach Otis Gibson was on hand to present a delighted Richardson the trophy and commiserate the 3 other finalists. Records have tumbled in this year’s BLK Top Gun competition and looking forward to next year we hope to uncover some more local league talent and find the BLK Top Gun champion for 2016!