Northchurch reached the Watford Observer Fourteen14 Shield final for the first time after a superior display in all departments saw them to an emphatic 64-run victory over Abbots Langley yesterday.

The victors built on a blistering opening to compile a sizeable total of 200-5 from their 14, eight-ball overs in good batting conditions at Chipperfield Clarendon’s ground, and then prevented their opponents from scoring at anywhere near the required rate to ensure the job was completed with some comfort.

Northchurch now await the winners of tomorrow night’s second semi-final between Radlett and Kings Langley at Abbots’ home, with the final due to be staged at West Herts’ ground on Wednesday, July 5.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Northchurch skipper Mark Hobley showed he meant business from the outset as he set about the Abbots bowlers with a display of controlled aggression.

Matt Parkins suffered the brunt of the big hitting as his two overs cost 43 runs, the majority of which came in boundaries as Hobley and George Liveing rattled the scoreboard along to 60 without loss by the end of the third over.

Hobley’s onslaught was to end in the next over when he edged Nick Gurney (1-49 from 4 overs) to wicketkeeper Jack Bishop off the 18th delivery he faced, but by that time he had amassed 48 runs featuring one six and eight fours.

The first wicket allowed Gurney and fellow spinner Tiaan Joubert to stem the tide to an extent, but Northchurch had got off to such a strong start that Liveing and Tom Garraway could afford to not to have to try and score off every ball, while still dispatching the poorer deliveries to the boundary.

Liveing (16), Garraway (34) and Stephen Meager (3) fell in quick succession as Joubert (2-45 from 4) and Martin Henderson (1-36 from 3) made inroads. And when Tom Vila (8) was dismissed by Daniel Roche (1-23 from 1) off the third ball of the penultimate over to make the score 153-5, Abbots would have hoped to be chasing no more than 180.

Instead, Northchurch proceeded to add 47 runs from the final 13 deliveries as Steve McGiffin cut loose to finish unbeaten on 60, aided by being dropped twice and benefitting from further disappointing work in the field by Langley.

Abbots needed a strong start to have any chance and although a costly second over from Garraway (0-21 from 1) provided some encouragement to openers Gurney (28) and Parkins (7), Oli Johnson (2-28 from 4) and Lee Johnson (1-30 from 3) continued to bowl with accuracy and control.

Abbots were only able to reach 69-3 by the midway point of their reply after Tom Carson (3) had joined Gurney and Parkins back in the pavilion.

Lee Rossiter’s (3) departure soon after saw Bishop join Joubert in the middle. Although they produced a 59-run alliance, the majority of the runs came in singles and twos as Romit Patel (1-23 from 3) and McGiffin (0-19 from 2) continued Northchurch’s good all-round work.

Callum Lindsay (2-9 from 1) took the final two wickets to fall in the last over as Abbots limped to 136-6 at the close, although Joubert did finish the contest undefeated on 50. But the outcome had been clear for some time as Northchurch became the 25th different finalist in the competition's history.