Altrincham Grammar School crowned National Champions

ALTRINCHAM Grammar School for Boys were crowned National 'Super 8s' Champions after holding their nerve to win a bowl-off in the final of the Chance to Shine Schools Cup.

The Trafford-based school battled through three rounds of local and regional qualifying to reach the finals of the Under 15 competition, which this year attracted more than 400 entries from around the country.

The Foundation Ground in Birmingham was the venue for last month's National Finals, which saw Altrincham line-up alongside schools from Staffordshire, Kent and Somerset.

Altrincham cruised to victory in the semi-finals, sweeping aside Alleyne's Academy from Staffordshire with an excellent all round team performance.

The final against Haygrove School was a much tighter affair, with the Somerset school posting a competitive 72-7 from their eight overs. Altrincham batted superbly in reply to require just five runs from the final over. However some tidy bowling and excellent fielding from Haygrove restricted them to just four runs, and with wickets level on seven apiece the match was tied.

For the first time in the Cup's history the final was determined by a bowl off, which each player allowed one delivery to try and hit the stumps. After five balls each Haygrove led 1-0, before three hits from the final three deliveries catapulted Altrincham to victory.

After a nail-biting finale, Altrincham Grammar School Coach Darren Birtwell applauded his players on their "exceptional achievement".

"It was a thrilling way to end the competition after a brilliant day of cricket in Birmingham," said Darren, who is also Head of Year 10 at the school.

"At 1-0 down in the bowl off with three deliveries remaining we were up against it, but the boys held their nerve superbly.

"Captain Finn Grosfils inspired the comeback, smashing the middle stump out of the ground, and that laid the platform for James Mazarelo and Alex Patel to bring the victory home.

"This was a real team effort however, and it is an exceptional achievement by the 12 players who competed throughout the competition who should feel exceptionally proud to call themselves National Champions."

Cheshire Cricket Board's Development and Coaching Officer for Trafford, Toby Mullins, was a guest of the school at the National Finals and offered his congratulations to the players.

He said: "I have had the privilege of coaching these talented boys over the course of the last 12 months and it was fantastic to see all their hard work pay off in Birmingham.

"The school has embraced the message of Chance to Shine and credit to Darren and the boys for supporting our local competitions, which really started the ball rolling.

"Most of the Altrincham squad are also involved in Cheshire's Player Pathway at various levels, so they are keen cricketers who play a high standard of club cricket.

"It's nice for Cheshire to have National Champions and this is something we can show the other schools as we encourage even more entries into our competitions in 2016."

Cheshire's Chance to Shine Manager Gavin Colebourn also lauded the achievements of Altrincham Grammar and hopes the boys continue their journey into senior cricket.

"What a brilliant way to start the Autumn term for our Chance to Shine schools, with news of a National Championship success," said Gavin.

"We are committed to providing more playing opportunities in Cheshire than ever before, and good news stories like this one can only act as an inspiration for others."

He added: "Congratulations once again to Darren and his pupils, and we look forward to seeing how future Altrincham teams fare in our Chance to Shine competitions." Altrincham GS National Finals Squad - Finn Grosfils (Capt), Ishan Jain, James Mazarelo, Paulo Manfredi, Sam Smith, Alex Patel, Matthew Armstrong, James Bottomley, Cameron Buchan & Rahul Geetala.

Click here to read the story of Chance to Shine finals day.