Coach Kevin Innes insisted there was ‘a proper player in the making there’ after watching Harry Gouldstone score his century that helped make Northamptonshire’s Under-17s national champions in the ECB’s 50-over Cup competition.
The County’s boys bounced back after losing their opening match against Wales, and came through in style to beat Hampshire by 86 runs in the final at Kibworth.
Gouldstone – whose father Mark played for Northamptonshire in the 1980s – hit a six and 12 fours in his 110 off 144 balls, and with Michael Wells and James Cronie both getting into the 30s a total of 255-9 in 50 overs looked solid enough.
Hampshire then collapsed after a 57-run opening partnership was broken and were eventually bowled out for 169, Henry Warren doing the bulk of the damage with outstanding figures of 6-21 from 8.3 overs. Amrit Basra (3-27) was also on target.
“They’ve been awesome – just the way they came back after losing that first match,” said Innes after the trophy was safely in Northamptonshire hands.
“This year it’s been very much a team effort. James (Sales) made runs in the semi-final when we were struggling a bit and all the bowlers have contributed at different times.
“Harry’s was a very professional and mature knock. He was still in second gear, looking really comfortable and showing his class. Henry bowled really well but they also helped us a bit with some cheap dismissals – a bit of finals pressure!”
Gouldstone was also delighted to have played a key role in Northamptonshire’s triumph. “The competition has been good and it’s great for us to do well with such a young side,” he said.
“Most of the lads are playing their first full year at this level of cricket. We’ve had a few ups and downs but we built up to the final and were able to go out and win it.
“Obviously it was great to get some runs in the final and I’m glad it helped us get over the line. It was very special. There’s no fear of failure in this team and that helped us.”
Warren revealed afterwards that his ‘six-for’ represented the best bowling figures of his career to date! “That first loss against Wales made us want it even more – it just showed the passion in the side and what we’re capable of,” he explained.
“There’s a lot of depth in this squad, not just one player who wins us every game. In the final I just stuck to what I do best and on the day it worked out.
“Harry is a class player and when he’s at his best he’s unstoppable really.”
Northamptonshire supporters with longish memories may recall the County winning the ECB’s U17 Championship title back in 1997 under the captaincy of Mark Chatfield, with future first-teamers Rob White, Mark Powell and Richard Logan in the side.
Coincidentally, they beat Hampshire in the two-day final – at New Road, Worcester – to do so.
They also shared the title with Sussex two decades later, in 2017, when the final was rained off. But this is the first time Northamptonshire have taken the honours in the shorter format.
Many congratulations to all concerned!