The first team kicked off UWMCC’s domestic outdoor season with a trip to the Northants County Ground to take part in a T16 (or S16) tournament. We were pitted against Birmingham in our semi-final with the winners going on to play either Loughborough or Exeter in the final.
Despite his usual insistence of “runs on the board”, the obscurity of the format meant that Goodyear opted to bowl first on a relatively flat track for an early season fixture. The openers of Winder and Roche bowled well to keep it tight in the 5 over Powerplay, with Jezza claiming the first two scalps of the season. The pressure was let off by a somewhat erratic first over from Mihir, but the other spinners, Probert and Rhino, brought Birmingham back in check. As Birmingham’s 3 and 4 settled in, the rate started to climb again with Rhino being sent out of the ground for a particularly big six. After Mihir returned for a similarly expensive over, Kit and Jezza rounded the innings off with some excellent death bowling, Kit picking up one wicket, then celebrating notably more for a well-executed slower ball, which would have made Milno extremely proud! A run out on the last ball saw Birmingham close the innings on 121-4 from their 16 overs.
In reply, Bex and Kabir got us off to a pedestrian start in the first few overs as they found their fluency. Bex then proceeded to take revenge for Rhino by sending the opposition leggie into the houses over cow corner. Kabir continued to deal mainly in boundaries and after 8 overs, UWMCC were 56/0 and seemingly on top. Unfortunately, spin once again proved to be the nemesis of UWMCC. Things began to unwind in the ninth over as Bex managed to whack their keepers’ helmet along with the ball and top edge one to short fine leg on 29. The following over saw Kabir end his innings, clearly exhausted from Bex’s enthusiastic running between the wickets, as he ran down the track and missed the ball entirely to be stumped for 31. Millman came in at 4 but did not hang around to entertain the very sparse crowd, leaving his first ball and following it up with his best Kabir impression the next ball and departing for a second-ball duck. When Randall became the 4th victim to fall to their leggie we had lost 4 wickets for 16 runs in 4 overs and the game looked out of reach with 51 needed off the last 4. Goodyear and Rooty then led a late surge to bring the game within reach in the last over, with 21 required.
The over started with a well-run two and then the Goodyear fireworks got going. 19 off 5. First, a boundary down to deep extra, aided by some slightly questionable fielding. 15 off 4. Next, a lusty blow off a length over the point region for 6 sending Kabir into a fit of excitement on the balcony. 9 off 3. A flowing drive down to long off, everyone expecting a regular two, but the Birmingham fielder produces even more questionable fielding, running entirely down the wrong line and letting the ball cross the rope. 5 off 2. An attempted pull shot is skied into the legside, but unfortunately no more suspect fielding from Birmingham and Goodyear’s a valiant crusade came to end on 29. 5 off 1. The batsmen had crossed so Rooty shaped up to face the last ball. Despite following the advice given to him by Rooty Snr during the pre-match throw-downs of playing with a straighter bat, he came up against a well-directed yorker, which he was only able to dig out for two down the ground, with Kit being sacrificed looking for an impossible third.
All in all, a promising display for the first game of the year, ending with a disappointing 2 run defeat. We look forward to hosting Birmingham in a 50 over pre-season friendly at Cryfield next Sunday as the build up to the BUCS season continues.