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  Laguna reign supreme:  

Laguna entered the final of the Island Furniture Cricket League last Sunday (May 13) as firm favourites.

And they lived up to the tag, claiming a comfortable 110 run victory over the season’s surprise contenders, the Village, thanks largely to the efforts of man-of-the-match Val Guirard.

Laguna won the toss on a warm morning at the Alan Cooke Ground (ACG) and elected to bat first, knowing they had a little more depth with the bat and also possessed the bowling stocks to defend any reasonable score.

Village’s opening bowler Tom Gordon helped kick things off with three wides and a no ball in the first over, as Laguna openers Bill Stahmer (17) and Damian Clowes (12) went about establishing a slow but solid 37 run opening stand.

The pair were hoping to make it to drinks, but it wasn’t to be – Clowes was the first to fall, clean bowled by Martin Foster in the eighth over, followed by Stahmer in the 13th.

But the depth of Laguna’s batting showed, with every batsman bar one reaching double figures, and Andrew Cole hitting an invaluable 44 from 51 deliveries before being removed by Tom Gordon.

But despite a solid run rate, Laguna were struggling to keep a pair of batsmen in the middle for any real length of time – after 30 overs, their biggest partnership was still 37 runs.

That is until man-of-the-match Val Guirard (58*) and Lijo Jose (26) met in the centre to blast a seventh wicket 64 off 59 deliveries and help carry Laguna to a very competitive 7-241 off 40 overs.

Martin Foster did most of the damage with the ball, claiming 3-37 off eight, while Justin White also returned decent figures of 1-31. But the Village were left ruing their wayward bowling – the sundries column read 48, including 36 wides.

With dark clouds starting to form over the ACG, Village knew they needed a brisk start in case the rain set in and the match was decided on run rate.They didn’t get it.

Instead, when Martin Foster (0) was out caught behind – he claimed it was off the pad, and made no secret of his disgust with the decision – the Village were 2-11 after five overs, and looking in serious trouble as Laguna’s opening pace attack of Val Guirard (1-15) and S Ullah (3-19) made themselves known.

It should have been 4-15 not long after, after an almost comical series of errors saw two dropped catches off as many balls. Wicketkeeper Mike Ayling was the first guilty subject, dropping a lollypop that went straight through the gloves.

The usually safe hands of Sameer Khan were the next to falter, as he ran in from mid-on, only to grass a basic chance at waist height.

It was a let-off for the Village, but compounding their woes, Chris Gordon retired injured after copping a throw from the boundary square on the head as he ran between wickets, and Harvey Nolan was already ruled out after injuring his shoulder in the field.

Divan Mydeen (13) and Justin White (28) came to the middle for a 35 run stand, and Tom Gordon also managed five boundaries on his way to 28, but in the end the Laguna attack was simply too good as the Village were knocked over for 128.

The victory was especially sweet for Laguna, who had finished runners-up last year.

But for a side who many wrote off as the jokers of the IFL this year, the Village proved more than a few doubters wrong with their second place finish.

© ACG Phuket Cricket and Sports Club • Supported by The Courtyard, Island Furniture and Alan Cooke MBE