ILMINSTER and Chard will go head-to-head tomorrow (Thursday) evening in the final of the Baker Cup at the County Ground in Taunton.
The 20-over a-side match will start at 6pm and it is expected that a large crowd of supporters will make their way to the ground for the eagerly-awaited contest.
Ilminster won through to the final with a commanding semi-final success over defending champions North Petherton last Thursday.
Ilminster knocked up 164-6 with Louis Kraucamp hitting a fine 85 including eight sixes and six fours, while Craig Rice weighed in with 37.
The innings had started badly for Ilminster as both Jon Hurford and skipper Sam Spurway went early for ducks, while Kraucamp was close to being caught in the first over. But the South African batsman took control and smashed 26 from one over alone.
In reply, North Petherton always struggled and closed on 80-8 - a long way short of the required total.
This year’s final will be the 75th and will be Ilminster's seventh having been winners in 2004 and 2010, while tomorrow’s match will be Chard’s first Baker Cup final.
Chard will be without skipper Jon Dalwood who is away on holiday, so Jon Scott - who led the team to the Somerset League title in 2009 - will take over the captaincy. Dalwood will be replaced in the line-up by Emlyn Kuhn - like Dalwood a former Ilminster player.
Ironically, Kuhn saw his distinction of having knocked Ilminster’s record score come to an end last weekend. Paul Sainsbury hit a superb 187 for Ilminster B in the Somerset League against Long Sutton to set a new club record and see Kuhn's seven-year record eclipsed.
On that occasion in 2005 he hit a mammoth 180 not out in a West of England Premier Two game against Chippenham.
Now Kuhn will be hoping to get one over his old club and help Chard to their first Baker Cup success.
Victory for Chard would also help to erase the memories of last season's heavy SCB Major Cup first round defeat to Ilminster. Ilminster piled on 223-5 from their 20 overs with Johnny Hurford (105) and Louis Kraucamp (104) putting on a record 217-run partnership for Ilminster. The Chard reply was 119-8 with only Kuhn with 50 making any impression as they fell to a 104-run defeat.
But despite the proximity of the two towns, competitive encounters between the pair are not so frequent. Apart from last season’s cup clash, the last time there was competitive action between the two was in 1999 when both sides were in Division One of the Somerset League. Ilminster won the league and were promoted to the West of England League.
Ilminster, of Premier One, will start as favourites for the cup with Chard plying their trade in Premier Two. But both sides will know anything can happen in 20-over cricket and a lot will depend on which team holds its nerve best.
See next week’s News for all of the cup final action. For the result check out www.chardandilminsternews.co.uk/sport