West Indian Cavaliers and Ealing will go head-to-head for their first ECB National Club Championship final at the Emirates Durham ICG on Sunday.
The Cavaliers are a relatively young club, having been formed in 1972, but have been involved at the top end of club cricket for many years as a founder member of the Nottinghamshire Premier League in 2001.
They have welcomed many international stars through their doors over the years including Carl Hooper, Saqlain Mushtaq and Alex Tudor. Former England, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire player Usman Afzaal is their current captain.
Predominately known as a batsman during his first class career, Afzaal has moulded himself into an all-rounder in club cricket and his figures of 3-12 against 2011 champions Shrewsbury in the quarter-final helped the Cavaliers to an impressive 111-run victory.
Another former first-class player in the Cavaliers ranks is Bilal Shafayat, the ex-England U19 captain who followed the same route as Afzaal from Nottinghamshire to Northamptonshire.
Shafayat produced a man-of-the-match performance in the third round when his side were dismissed for 238 against Sandiacre Town, a fellow Nottinghamshire Premier League side, Shafayat made 137 while partners fell around him.
This was followed up with an impressive performance against another Nottinghamshire Premier League side, Cuckney, in the fourth round as Shafayat’s 73 helped the Cavaliers to a 56-run win. Cuckney currently sit eight points above the Cavaliers with their final league match of this season taking place today.
The furthest West Indian Cavaliers have got in the National Club Championship in previous years was a semi-final spot in both 2003 and 2011.
They made it one stage further this year thanks to a four-wicket win over North East Premier League side South Northumberland, winners of the competition in 2006 and 2010.
Ealing Cricket Club have over 100 years more history than their opponents having been formed in 1870 and this will be their fourth appearance in the final following defeats in 1971, 1994 and 2010.
The club has had a thriving colts section for many years and have a number of current and ex-county players who have come through the club including Leicestershire’s Ned Eckersley and Chris Peploe, who played for Middlesex before returning to Ealing as player-coach, a role he still holds today.
Ealing have produced a number of high-quality performances in this season’s competition, Peploe at the heart of most of their best work.
His 75 aided a four-wicket win over an impressive Wimbledon side in round three and he followed that up in the fifth round with bowling figures of 3-33 as Ealing beat 2012 semi-finalists Havant by six wickets.
Peploe then produced a dominant all-round display in the semi-final against Swardeston of the East Anglian Premier League, taking 3-11 from 8 overs and adding an unbeaten 53 to secure a seven-wicket win.
However, the Middlesex League side are not solely reliant on Peploe. Opening batsmen Chris Wakefield, who hit an unbeaten 88 against Swardeston, and Ahmed Elech, a half-centurion in round five and the last eight, often produce a great base to build from.
New-ball bowler Chris Glasper has also proved to be a match-winner, returning four-wicket hauls in Ealing’s fourth round and quarter-final victories.
The National Club Championship final will begin at 11am and there is free entry into the Emirates Durham ICG for all spectators.
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