Alan Barber Cup: Number 15 For Record-Equalling Olavians
19/02/18: The Old Olavians won the Alan Barber Cup at Eton once again yesterday, their fifteenth straight win equalling the record of consecutive victories in the competition set by the Old Cholmeleians between 1977 and 1991. They have now won the competition 18 times in the last 19 years and their 19 victories overall puts them only four behind the Cholmeleians record of 23.
The first modern-era Olavian win in this competition dates back to 2000, and remarkably three members of that side were back in action yesterday, still providing the star quality at the top of the order for the defending champions. The Salopians have been snapping at the heels of the Olavians for a while, making eight of the last nine finals, and despite the presence of James Toop, Howard Wiseman and Seb Cooley, the Shrewsbury team may have sensed a bit of an opportunity in the absence through injury of Matt Wiseman and the inclusion of some younger, less experienced names at the lower end of the Olavian order.
Chris Hughes and Sam Welti duly showed a bit too much class and knowhow for Harry Ravi and Martin Bassot at third pair, although the young Olavians put up a strong showing. Having Seb Cooley at second pair is a definite luxury and well though Tom Cox & Rex Worth played for the Salopians, Seb & Tony Barker always had too much firepower for them. With both of those matches over reasonably quickly, all eyes turned to the first pair battle, which would decide the overall result.
James Toop & Howard Wiseman are a formidable partnership but Ed Taylor & George Thomason had noted their defeat at the hands of Jonny Ho & Riki Houlden in the semi-finals of the Northern tournament a couple of weeks ago and came into the match firmly believing they could do the same. The first two games were long, tough and gruelling, with lengthy rallies and points being chiselled out one by one. The Salopians got close; they led 10-8 in both of the first two games without being able to force home the advantage. Howard & James had to use all of the experience banked during the course of their long winning run in this competition to come through in those first two games, but when it really mattered they found the rally, the shot or the cut and return to get them over the line 15-12, 13-11. The third game was still no pushover as the Salopians fought tooth and nail to get back into the match, but Howard & James had the edge from fairly early on to win it to 6 and clinch the trophy.
Thanks to Mark Williams for his organisation, to Chris Davies for presenting the trophies and to Mike Hughes and Eton for hosting the tournament. Can anyone stop the Olavians making it 16 in a row next year?
Old Olavians beat Old Salopians 2-1:
J.Toop & H.Wiseman beat G.Thomason & E.Taylor 3-0 (15-12, 13-11, 12-6)
S.Cooley & T.Barker beat R.Worth & T.Cox 3-0 (12-5, 12-6, 12-2)
H.Ravi & M.Bassot lost to C.Hughes & S.Welti 0-3 (6-12, 5-12, 7-12)
CLICK HERE to see all of the results and scores from this year's competition