3s vs Worcester 2s
The rearrangement of the Worcester fixture gave the opportunity for skipper Barclay to pick a ‘strengthened’ 3’s team, including a number of 2’s regulars including Bradshaw, Annandale and Bennett. The arrival of these better players caused much optimism to flow through the team; and having been put in to bat on a hard deck on a lovely sunny day, Bradshaw declared that the team needed 250 minimum…
Needless to say, Worcester 2s had also fielded a strengthened side, with them including their Varsity Opening Bowler who was their bowling equivalent to Marjot. Barclay and David succumbed in successive balls in the third over, both unplayable deliveries that sent the stumps cartwheeling. When Shah fell a couple of overs later, we were in a tight situation – but we weren’t worrying, Bradshaw and Bennett were at the crease (both 2’s players). This mini revival that followed was short-lived as Bennett was bowled slogging across the line; he blamed this on the three he had just ran and was too tired to continue. Maybe a bit more cardio in the gym is required? Bradshaw here had most likely still failed to get off the mark by this point, having opened the batting.
The slump continued to get worse when Bradshaw managed to finally hit the ball, if only straight onto his stumps. The middle order failed to provide resistance and we continued to lose quick wickets, with Moose falling to a golden duck. A last wicket stand of 33 from Kraus and Hamza managed to get us to three figures, but we were eventually bowled out for 100 inside 27 overs – a woefully bad batting performance. Kraus was incidentally batting primarily to delay the game long enough so that he would arrive back to campus later for the evening’s entertainment.
At tea we regrouped and agreed that we needed quick wickets to have any chance of competing in the game. Having thrown the ball to Moose, a bowler with BUCs Prem wickets to his name we had high expectations that this would be possible. However, having only recently awoken from his winter hibernation, Moose was severely lacking in fitness and could only manage five overs before withdrawing himself from the attack without anything to show for his ‘efforts’. At the other end, Povey was being as miserly as ever, conceding 14 runs from his 8 over spell. The game could have taken a different turn during this period had Bradshaw not dropped an absolute sitter in the slips but, alas, it was not to be. Kraus followed his solid batting efforts with the only wicket taken – a plumb lbw, but Worcester managed to chase in 26 overs thanks to some friendly bowling from Bennett, which resulted in the only lost ball of the ball.
Despite the loss, the team remained in good spirits – most likely due to the anticipation for the evening’s entertainment. A much needed, if not deserved, beer followed in the clubhouse before we made the short journey to watch the culmination of the 4s game.
4s vs Worcester 3s
It was a long awaited day for many as the first BUCS fixtures of the season arrived, away at Worcester 3 XI. Jack Jewson was making his first appearance as 4th XI skipper, and had already boasted of some Bradshaw-like keenness, already speculating about a leg-slip for Andy Davis. After dropping off the ‘gun’ 3rd XI at a very nice looking ground, there was finally space to breathe on an inadequately sized bus with seemingly a smaller boot than a Toyota Aygo. Dreading a huge come-down to a shoddy looking park pitch, the 4th XI were pleasantly surprised to find an affable ground, albeit it with one very short boundary on one side. Jewson began the day as he meant to go on, losing the toss, and being asked to field.
Andy Davis and Connor Hobbs opened up the bowling, the much anticipated leg-slip to Andy Davis unfortunately not getting much action, Jewson refusing to move him as Danny Williams had questioned the position early on. The pitch was fairly two paced, with Williams’ Mark Nicholas style review of the pitch proving to be fairly accurate, noting the soft, soggy spots on an otherwise good looking track. It was this factor that probably caused the first wicket, Andy Davis bowling one of the openers as he attempted a textbook heave. The other opening bat, whom Andy Davis had forced to retire hurt last year after hitting him in the private regions, didn’t fare much better this year, lobbing a catch to Mahir Yousuff off the bowling of Alay Vora. Sam King was brought on as soon as the powerplay was over, and has clearly been watching home videos of James Tredwell, starting round the wicket, and bowling tidily throughout his spell. With Worcester’s two best batsman nearing a hundred partnership, and Yousuff struggling to find consistency with his leg-breaks, Jewson turned to sixth-choice bowler, Jonny Hall, for some Ravi Bopara style medium pacers.
What ensued was somewhat surprising, as Hall bowled a half-volley to the well-settled Worcester number 4, who had previously played some regal shots down the ground to King. This shot however ballooned to the safe hands of Davis at long-on. Hall’s absolute delirium was only increased as he dismissed their skipper for a golden duck later in the over, nipping the ball off the seam and exposing some technique issues related to the proximity of his bat and pad. After Hall had another victim in his second over with a leg-stump yorker, and the score at 165-5, Williams confidently declaring that he wished ‘to chase no more than 190’. Little did he see that within overs, Williams would be bowling ‘off-spin’ (making Marlon Samuels look like Graeme Swann) and UWMCCFC regular, UWMCC debutant, Joe Harris, would also be getting a bowl – due to Hall’s repetitive arse strain meaning he could only bowl four Deep Heat assisted overs. Both took a wicket, Williams with a caught and bowled, and Harris being skied down to long-on, Hall taking the catch just off the rope. However, both wickets were not the key batsman, who went on to score 115 (including three consecutive sixes off Davis, impressive hitting on sight) before being bowled by Hobbs (Clobber well on its way to an established nickname), who also picked up two more wickets at the end, finishing with figures of 3-52.
Chasing 265 for victory, Ed Cooper and Jake Sittampalam went out to open, the chase starting well as the latter was given out for the first (and only) L.B.W of the day, and looked very out from the boundary. It is worth noting that the umpires, although receiving startling reviews from Jewson (for only giving L.B.W’s if absolutely plumb) after losing the ball in the first, were genuinely going to proceed play with a shoddy looking, child-sized ball, if not for Williams’ pointing out the issue. Having seen Steve Davis rule that Michael Lumb’s catch three metres above the ground to dismiss Mahela Jayawardene off Jade Dernbach was in fact illegitimate, it is a close battle to decide which decision was more remarkable. That side venture is mainly to avoid describing the patience of Cooper’s batting and scratchiness of Williams early on, against some probing Worcester bowling. However, just as Williams looked as if he was getting into his stride, with some well hit straight drives, he was dismissed by a slower ball for 29 (all the scores listed in this piece for UWMCC batsman could well be wrong, as the total runs added up fell some 50 short of the actual total). With the team realising the importance of one batsman going on to make a significant contribution, it looked as if Yousuff (26) could be the man, exploiting the short boundary and batting beautifully, before drilling a shot to a diving mid-on, who took a catch not all dissimilar to Williams’ spectacular effort in the first innings, which spilt out of his hands upon hitting the ground, causing some amusing facial defects. From here on in, it was always going to be an uphill struggle, with both Harris and Hall being dismissed cheaply. Despite the resistant 30 made by Jewson, featuring some iconic cut shots, and a 20 by Andy Davis with his matchstick, UWMCC’s 200 all out was in reality, a long way away from chasing the total set by Worcester. Credit to Cooper who was belligerent in holding the innings together, getting 34 runs in the scorebook, though probably was short-handed there.
After a disappointing result, it was perhaps a suitable day for initiations, as a fine array of Rebecca Loos and Victoria Beckham impressions left the ground, to join Cheryl Cole’s on the bus, amongst many. The bus was organised with bags taking up 4 seats of a 24 seated bus, leaving Davis to cramp up on a regular basis on the journey back. Still, could be worse, as Yousuff managed to leave his boots at the ground, after losing his helmet earlier in the week. The 4s go away to Staffordshire next week.