A glorious day on Cryfield 1 saw the chance for David Barclay’s floundering 3s to end their winless streak against Nottingham Trent 3s. A thorough pre-match pitch inspection from Haque, BD, Barclay et al revealed that conditions were ripe for batting: the sun was out, the pitch was flat, one particularly short boundary looked inviting and a score of 250+ beckoned. Barclay obliged by winning the toss and sending Haque and Sturrock out to open up.
However, both men were soon back in the hutch pondering what might have been. Haque received a jaffer in the first over (definitely unplayable) that disturbed his off peg, while Steggs departed to a brilliant catch in the gully. Demoting himself down the order in what he hoped was a captaincy masterstroke, Barclay proceeded to nick off for three, incidentally his highest score of the season to date. Stuff was later bowled and Jewson dubiously triggered by the umpire, leaving the 3s in dire straits on 68-5.
One man and one man only stood in the way of an embarrassingly under-par total. Batting at three, Ballantine-Dykes battled his way through the tricky opening spell unscathed, only offering a tough chance to gully that may have been taken on another day. After taking time to get his eye in, he struck some lusty blows down the ground, with an off-balance six over long off perhaps the highlight. He accelerated after reaching 50, eventually powering to a century with a six and a four off the same bowler, who took a nasty blow to the midriff for his troubles. A valuable knock and a well-deserved baggie for the big man.
Nik Jaiswal proved a crucial partner at the other end, earning a very considered 30 with some lovely shots and careful batting, making the watching top order wonder how and why they had so easily folded like a pack of cards. Jonnie Cooper, making his BUCS debut at number 8, was the only other batsman to touch double figures. Despite Barclay’s protestations that 184 was a defendable total, the reality was that it was nothing but meagre at best.
After much discussion over a few welcome Jin’s baguettes at tea about the necessity for early wickets, they unfortunately never came. Stuff and Waleed bowled testing opening spells but the Trent openers rode their luck with some flayed edges and streaky drives, leaving both bowlers wicketless. The left-handed opening bat in particular showed a remarkable talent for playing and missing, somehow failing to edge the ball on numerous occasions.
Spinner Fern was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 2-53. His second wicket was a delight – after lulling the batsman into a false sense of security with a filthy long-hop the ball before, he bowled a textbook leg break that caught the edge and went straight to the grateful Jewson behind the stumps. However, Trent remained on top throughout, staying ahead of the rate and not losing too many wickets in the process. The UWMCC were never able to sustain periods of pressure as they desired.
There was a consolatory wicket for Ballantine-Dykes near the finish to top off an excellent day for him personally, but a comfortable victory for Trent was gained with seven wickets to spare. Defeat ensures that UWMCC stalwart Steggs extends his unenviable winless run in BUCS to 12 games, while Barclay’s side remain deep in the relegation mire and staring ominously down the barrel.