After Clayden’s and Gonszor’s heroics on Wednesday, UWMCC’s 1st XI knew that it was all to play for against Oxford 2nd XI, with three teams in the division on two victories and one loss. With Rooty and the Hayes-Stileman Radio 4 automobile both going direct it was a pretty quiet bus journey, until the bus driver inexplicably decided to play Radio 2 at an ear-damaging volume. Despite the lack of air-con, a pretty turgid music quiz and the ground being at the end of a narrow dust track, UWMCC arrived to a polarising track; Hayes convinced it was a road and that Oxford would win the toss and bat, Goodyear arguing to the contrary. As it turned out, Oxford were convinced of their ability to chase down a score (as they had done against DMU) and elected to field.
It was hard work early on for Teds and Bex, the Oxford openers swinging the ball nicely and bowling pretty good areas. Despite some pretty bizarre sledging from Oxford’s big Aussie, Teds went about his business in a typically efficient fashion, putting the bad balls away with ease. At 35-0 off 11, it was all going rather well. However, Bex snicked off and Rooty was then clean bowled, leaving UWMCC 51-2 off 15. Number four Hayes looked very good, dealing almost exclusively in boundaries, but he fell soon after the dismissal of Teds for 44 off 55, the score at 97-4 off 22. Teds, anguishing at his score upon his return to the sidelines, would declare himself a “doughnut”, bemoaning his dismissal as “such a Nedmonds thing to do”.
The keepers union of Goodyear and Millman went patiently about their business, as both the first and second change Oxford bowlers were admirably consistent. With the introduction of what can only be described as a gash off-spinner to the attack, Millman looked to take advantage and instead edged a slog sweep to mid-on. When Clayden was dismissed not long after, UWMCC were 143-6 and beginning to falter. Fortunately, 1s debutant Hall got off to a swift start, including a rare straight drive for four and an accidental six against the off-spinner. After getting away with a missed stumping, a drop and a catch that didn’t quite carry, Hall took a liking to the spinner, depositing him over cow for 15 in one over. Soon after, Hall was trapped in front to the bowler introduced in the 46th over, dismissed for a helpful 39 off 27. Larkins also contributed admirably, scoring 11 with 8 consecutive scoring shots. Captain Goodyear joined in the fun, finishing on a typically well-constructed a59, having been caught in the last over. With an archetypal James Harris innings (big swing, then bowled), the aforementioned bowler had four wickets in less than three overs, with UWMCC finishing on 221 – probably about par.
Other notable events of UWMCC’s innings were Rooty falling for a story from The Hoar, Larkins’s discussions regarding pub names (the Oxford and Warwick being a fans favourite) and Hayes nicknaming Hall Corrigan after the legendary Peep Show character. After an expectedly fancy tea and a rousing team talk from Goodyear, an energetic UWMCC were ready to go – especially given the hellish smell of all of Goodyear’s cricketing equipment.
Oxford’s openers began well, one in particular displaying some excellent stroke play, especially through the covers off the back foot. Indeed, at 45-0 off 11, Oxford’s chasing pedigree appeared to be well founded. However, Rooty bowled with great consistency when introduced into the attack, and Stilo’s last five overs went for just 9 runs, reducing the run rate significantly – the next 11 overs going for a mere 18 runs. At this point, the game was set up beautifully for the bastion of accuracy, Harris. With just his second ball, he took the first wicket of the innings, a loose stroke after a period of sustained pressure. This early breakthrough set the tone for Harris’s spell, his first seven overs going for just 5 runs, and picking up the wicket of both openers after two catches from Rooty. However, this was just the prelude to his third wicket, as Harris took a superb one handed catch off his own bowling, causing absolute pandemonium in the field. With Oxford 94-3 off 33, the required rate was up to nearly 7.5.
However, with the accuracy of Harris and the turn and bounce from Hayes, Oxford’s batsmen struggled to ever up the rate, even with six wickets in hand in the 40th over. A smart stumping from Goodyear off a charging batsmen’s pads, and yet another catch for Rooty gave Hayes his first two wickets. The Oxford skipper’s misplaced faith in all his teammates sub-10 sprinting ability led to Teds getting a run out and despite Hall’s impressions of Rob Kraus tipping shots over the bar for UWMCCFC, it was a matter of time at this point. Clayden got the eighth wicket with a well-executed yorker, Goodyear with a ‘run out’ for the ninth, and Root with the last (Hall excessively celebrating his catch at long on) meant that UWMCC had secured a 48 run victory. Credit must go to Harris’s match-winning spell of 3-17 off his 10 overs, but also to the fielding effort and team spirit shown by the 1st XI after a promising start by the Oxford batsmen.
Highlights of the fielding innings of course came from Harris, who told a rigidly defensive Oxford batsman that “the only positive thing about you is your HIV”, and telling the Oxford players on sightscreen duty that “it’s not an equation sunshines, you just need to push it”. Harris’s form would continue on the journey back to campus, recalling entertaining encounters with women in their 40s, and lamenting about when a fairly dirty girl refused to explore some back door alternatives. With Goodyear tied up in the exam hall, it falls to Gonszor and his men to continue the 1st XI’s good form as they face Nottingham on Wednesday at Cryfield – a win would extend their lead at the top of the table as they await DMU’s results.