Ralph Thoresby School defend Lord's Taverners National Table Cricket Finals title

National Table Cricket Finals Day at Lords Cricket Ground, London

Ralph Thoresby School are national table cricket champions after a dramatic triumph in last week's Lord's Taverners National Table Cricket Finals.

The Holt Park school’s side were one of 12 to compete in the Nursery Pavilion, at Lord’s Cricket Ground, for the right to call themselves national champions.

And they snatched the crown, beating Cumbria's William Howard School in a white-knuckle final that saw Alex Mitchell strike the winning runs off the final ball.

It was a day the year 13 pupil will savour for the rest of his life, with his parents also making a surprise visit to watch him play at the Home of Cricket.

"I couldn't have asked for a better day," said Alex, 18, from Cookridge.

"Playing at Lord's felt amazing. It's such an iconic venue and to win was the icing on the cake.

"We ended up winning but it's not just a final for us, it's a festival of table cricket and that's why it's so amazing.

"Table cricket has helped me because it's developed my skills in teamwork, my ability to communicate as well as giving me the competitive chance.

"The Finals are a special day because it's a showcase of the sport and it's got a serious prize at the end of it - which thankfully we won!"

More than 400 schools and nearly 8,000 disabled young people took part during the heats of the competition, now into its 21st year, which is made possible thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and Ford.

Played on a table tennis table with side panels and sliding fielders, a ball launcher, weighted plastic ball and wooden bat, table cricket enables young people with severe physical and learning disabilities to enjoy cricket and represent their school on a competitive basis.

The game not only gives opportunities for competitive play and social integrations, it also improves life-skills including self-confidence, independence and social skills. An enhanced role for the captain also allows for the development of leadership skills.

Alex's dad Gordon, 48, feels the sport has been a godsend for his son.

"As a parent, seeing Alex's leadership skills develop and being a part of the team ethic is just fantastic," he said.

"Alex is ultra-competitive and has a background in rugby, but those basic skills of teamwork, competitiveness and everyone contributing are priceless."

Watching on at Lord’s was Radio 1 DJ, cricket lover and Lord’s Taverners Table Cricket Ambassador Greg James, as well as Middlesex wicketkeeper and Lord’s Taverners ambassador John Simpson.

And BBC star James was excited to see the charity making cricket available to people of all abilities.

"Table cricket needs its own particular set of skills and the kids in the Finals were very skilled at it," said James.

"Coming to Lord's is always exciting - I was blown away the first time I came - and they will have made lifelong memories from playing there.

"Sport is for all and it should be, which is why it's so good the Taverners gave the kids this opportunity."

The Lord’s Taverners is the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity whose aim is to give disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance – go to www.lordstaverners.org to find out more.