STOKE GABRIEL pulled off one of the finest comebacks the Brockman Cup has ever seen to beat Abbotskerswell by three wickets in Friday night’s final at Torquay Recreation Ground. 

Abbots made 141 for three in their 20 overs and had Stoke pegged to 48 for two at the halfway stage of their reply – an asking rate of more than nine an over to win.

The game turned on a stand of 50 between Man of the Match Tom Armstrong and veteran Tim Nand-Lal, who repaired the damage done by the slow start.

Adrian Tucker had hit 29, and Dave Higins 13, but Stoke found Abbots bowles hard to get away. Shaun Green (4-27) and Paul Acton (0-17) both proved to be a handful.

Nand-Lal made 18, including a rare six over mid-wicket that delighted the Stoke contingent in the pavilion enclosure, while Armstrong clubbed a quickfire 37.

Armstong had a bit of luck along the way as he was ‘bowled’ off a no-ball sent down by Richard Acton, and ‘caught’ over the line by Andy Lock having hit another no-ball for six.

That was a torrid over for Abbots youngster Acton as he conceded 23 runs off it, which really got Stoke back in the game.

Abbots weren’t dead and buried yet as they nipped out Nand-Lal and Armstrong at 110 for four and 13 for five. Old warhorse Clive Burnell (12) and Yeoman (8) nurdled the score up to 132 when both went a run apart.

But the momentum was with Stoke now and the deteriorating light was working in their favour as Abbots’ fielders couldn’t see the ball coming. It cost them a couple of vital boundaries late in the day.

Darren Rowe and Chris Life were the batsmen in residence for the final over from Abbots’ skipper Gary Day, with a target of five to win off six balls. They passed it with two balls to spare.

Earlier, Neal Williams had top scored with 50 not out for Abbots and Damian Scarr made 46 before he had to retire hurt after being hit on the temple by a wayward throw in from a Stoke fielder. 

Winning skipper Yeoman said Armstrong’s Man of the Match award was well deserved as his knock turned the game around.

“With 10 overs to go we were out of it, then Tom started hitting it about and Tim stayed with him and suddenly we are back in it,” said Yeoman.

“Stoke haven’t won this cup since 1990 and there is a faded picture and cutting from the Herald Express on the pavilion wall to remember that night by.

“It will be nice to put another one up alongside it after another night we will all remember for a long time.”

Abbotskerswell 141-3 (D Scarr 46, N Williams 50no), Stoke Gabriel 144-7 (A Tucker 29, T Armstrong 37, T Nand-Lal 18). Stoke bt Abbotskerswell by 3 wkts.