Due to some last minute reorganisation from Warwickshire CCC, our Coventry Indoor VI were forced to make the trek up to Edgbaston on Easter Sunday, a less than ideal day, compounded by the late timing of the matches – set to finish at 9pm. Our ‘relatively’ strong team of Captain Clobber, Thornley, JP, Gujar, Nish and Goodyear had all managed to arrive with time to spare, only to be escorted up to the top tier of the building for no particular reason in order to sort out the draw for the semi-finals.
Seeing that two of the teams seemed to be rivals back at home, inevitably both of them, Unity CC and ‘Tigers’, were drawn against each other and the UWMCC were to play second against the little-known ‘Al Asari’. Staying up top to watch the first game, it struck us how much more prepared the other teams seemed to be, with field placements superb and both bowling and fielding on point. Tigers’ batting, however, left a lot to be desired, and after being bowled out for 54 they rather graciously allowed UWMCC some extra practice time on the pitch by bowling badly enough to have it chased down in only 4.2 overs.
UWMCC’s bowling attack looked strong enough on paper, but after just four overs of spin we’d allowed Al Asari to find 59 runs, and their opener (sporting regular clothes instead of any sort of cricketing gear) had retired in spectacular fashion, with back-to-back sixes. It was up to Thornley and Clobber to slow the flow of runs, but despite the former picking up a couple of wickets, Al Asari found their way to 105 off 8. Giving the last two overs to JP and Thornley, we managed to pick up the remainder of the wickets but at the expense of several more boundaries, leaving us staring at a monstrosity of a chase, 144 required off our 10. All in all, the less said about this innings the better.
Considering we had such a mountain to climb with the bat, the instruction was to go hard from the beginning, which we managed, but the severity of 15-an-over was seemingly just too much. 22-0 off 2 would be welcomed gladly in many situations, but not this time. Gujar was the first to feel the pressure, getting run out on 6, to be replaced by Thornley. If any partnership could win us the game, it had to be this one, and despite getting close to retirement, Goodyear succumbed to a good ball and was caught on 21. Thornley’s big hitting saw him retire which sent Clobber in to join Nish at the crease, with UWMCC 60-2 off 5, and not quite out of it yet. The same spinner who’d dismantled our bowling gave the skipper a juicy half-volley first up and although it was cleanly struck back over his head, the opening chucker for Al Asari pulled off a fine grab, sending him back to the hutch with JP to be his replacement. Despite some nice strokes, another run-out came our way and Thornley rejoined Nish to see out the remainder of the innings. The two of them negotiated the remaining three overs spectacularly, finishing on 50* and 38* respectively, but we still were 20 runs short as the match came to a close.
Mulling over what went wrong, we decided that too many dropped catches (sorry), bad field placements (sorry) and sub-par bowling (sorry) allowed Al Asari to score far too many runs, but we didn’t have long to dwell on it since our 3rd place playoff was due to start not long after. Feeling a little dejected, we probably weren’t in the right frame of mind going in to the second game, but winning the toss and deciding to bat first this time, we put on an impressive start (but for Gujar being run out on six yet again). Goodyear scored runs freely, but Thornley seemed to be struggling, and despite the skipper refraining from jinxing it, managed to get caught trying to scoop the ball down to fine leg. Goodyear’s retirement shortly afterwards brought Clobber to join Nish once more, but having the same luck as before, a good catch ending the innings early. JP didn’t last long, so Goodyear and Nish had to see us through, both batting well and ending on 30* and 38 respectively.
UWMCC’s 121-5 was easily defendable, and having seen the Tigers flounder to 54-6 earlier in the day we were confident heading into our bowling innings. Some much tighter bowling from Clobber and JP ensured a slow start to the Tigers innings, and with Gujar and Nish carrying on in the same way we found ourselves in the great position of needing to bowl just two overs for less than 50 runs. Since the penultimate over went for 10, that left us in an almost unloseable situation, but JP did try his hardest, gifting the opposition 23 runs in a bid to see just how close we could keep it. Third place earned us a bat-breaking cricket ball each, some consolation seeing as we were now watching Unity and Al Asari fight it out for six tickets to see Warwickshire play a T20 against Notts. Despite bowling Unity out for 33, Al Asari failed to win the tickets, because by chasing down the total they actually won a pretty naff first prize of a cricket bag, whilst the tickets themselves went to second place.
Despite the day not going quite as planned, we still had a good experience playing at Edgbaston and a quality tour of the Midlands trying to find the place (and our way back). Thanks to everyone who played, not just in the finals day but in all of the league matches that helped get us there (even those who suffered cruel defeat to Warwick CC back in term 1). I’ve had a great time organising it, and I hope you guys have enjoyed playing it too. Thanks also to Bradshaw for his help arranging transport etc. Good luck to everyone in the BUCS season and hopefully whoever’s got charge of this next year can go one step further.