UWMCC’s BUCS Indoors team of Goodyear, Bexson, Clayden, Chase, Winder and Tedmonds assembled at Leamington Spa Station, accompanied by (desperately hungover) scorer Turner and Hall, the latter enjoying what was probably the first P+C away day in the club’s history. Given the 08:30 start on Sunday morning, the boys travelled down to Eastleigh on the Saturday. Accommodation had been hugely assisted by Warwick Sport’s £10 donation per person, leading Hammond (aided by Bexson and Goodyear) to splash the club’s cash on a pretty solid Holiday Inn in Eastleigh, virtually next door to the famed Fleming Park Leisure Centre. Piling into the freshers’ room, the boys enjoyed watching England’s success over Wales (shout out to Maro Itoje), accompanied by various rounds of hot drinks by P+C-cum-waiter Hall.
Once Teds arrived, the ideal day continued as we stumbled across the Eastleigh Strip (Prezzo, ChimiChanga, Hollywood Bowl etc.), settling on a Harvester for dinner. After Warwick Sport level incompetence from the staff of Harvester, the boys eventually sat down for dinner. Hall, having misunderstood everyone ordering drinks at the bar for the restaurant having a Nando’s style ordering system had pretty much finished his meal before everyone else had theirs. The salad bar was as reliable as ever, with most of the tourists enjoying Kit Winder’s early call of a half-rotisserie chicken as their main. After mind-gruelling trivia from Hall (what’s the most listened to radio station in the UK… supposedly ASDA), we headed back for a quick team-talk from Goodyear, Match of the Day and some much needed sleep.
Despite Goodyear’s adamant declaration that we hadn’t paid for breakfast, the chaps headed down at 07:00 for their cold breakfast. Cold was the last word to describe the room after Bexson put a croissant through that classic hotel-style toasting machine, with the pastry literally setting on fire. Some heavy blowing from Bex and the patio doors being hastily opened managed to avoid waking up all the hotel’s occupants for a cheeky 07:28 fire drill. The timings being crucial here as at this point Coventry players (despite strong rumours of a night out, having being doing some aggressive-Tindering in the lounge on Saturday and the minibus being moved from its previous position overnight) were arriving for their cooked breakfast, beginning at 07:30. Who knows the potential impact that those black puddings could have had.
Game 1 vs Portsmouth
Having scouted the hall yesterday, UWMCC were ready to go for their first game. Goodyear lost the toss and Portsmouth, having played all their fixtures in this very leisure centre, would elect to bat first to try and post a big score. As per, Chase began the innings with the first over, going only for 7. In just the second over of the day, Hall had to abandon Periscope to get a wristband to avoid another ban from a public institution. In the meantime, Bexson bowled another solid over, again only going for 7. However, the Portsmouth batsmen began to show some of their local knowledge, notably in a very good over against Clayds, taking them to 52 off 5 and yet to lose a wicket.
After both openers retired, the platform was well and truly set, the Portsmouth batsmen attacking Chase in particular with a Desso-sized back wall in play. Only a smart catch from Teds off the net at third-man would slow down the Portsmouth charge, dismissing their number four for just a couple. Even after a catch off the wall by Goodyear, Portsmouth had still posted 104-2 off their 10; an excellent batting performance given that there were only 9 extras.
Indeed, extras would prove to be the main batsman for UWMCC in their chase of 105. Teds continued his good form with the bat, making 20 before being dismissed caught and bowled. Thanks to another expensive over from Portsmouth’s first change bowler (who finished with figures of 3-0-46-0), we only needed 29 off 18 with 4 wickets in hand. However, disaster struck as Clayden and Goodyear were run out in successive balls, leaving us needing 21 off 12 with just 2 wickets in hand. After Chase was run out backing up, it was all down to Winder, needing 8 off 7. A timely three to finish the over meant that only 5 were required for victory. Extra balls in the final over and three more wides (of their 27) meant that it was 2 required off 5 – Winder just needing to hit the walls. Alas, he duly did, with great control. 1 off 4. Bexson declaring ‘6 or gay’, Goodyear beginning to peel away like Alan Shearer on the balcony – what they didn’t see coming was Winder (30) getting an edge, the keeper taking a smart catch and the game finishing in a tie.
Game 2 vs Canterbury Christchurch
However disappointed UWMCC were after the Portsmouth game, no one could have seen what would happen in the second game. Goodyear lost the toss again, with Christchurch (I’d never heard of them either) choosing to bat first after their defeat to Sheffield Hallam. Their little and large opening partnership got off to a flying start, scoring 30 off the first two overs with an impressive mix of threes and sixes. A direct hit from Teds was exactly what was needed, especially as their big hitter was on 21 at the time. This was followed up by a brilliant fourth over from Clayds (going for just three, which was the first ball), including a few plays and misses from Christchurch’s number 3. Unfortunately, with a lack of turn off the pitch and a massive back wall, Christchurch’s batsmen were very aggressive against Chase, taking the score to 64-1 off 6, with their other opener in the shed retired.
Again though, Edmonds provided the spark with another over-arm direct hit, the Christchurch balcony declaring that their number 4 was ‘shit, he’s so shit’, Hall declaring ‘Davey Warner never misses’. Despite being biffed around earlier, Bex responded with an excellent second over, going only for three, along with a run out from Winder. After a sodden start, UWMCC had dragged the game back, the score being 75-3 off 8. With two more run outs (yet another for Teds and one for Clayds), Christchurch finished on 98-5, seemingly very chaseable based on our Portsmouth experience.
Alas, what would follow was an all-round pretty horrible experience. Daddy Bexson, having been on the beers at Twickers the day before, had arrived for the second game, only to see his darling son run out first ball without facing. After that, Teds was ran out for 1, Clayden run out for 1, Goodyear run out for 6 and Chase bowled out for 1. UWMCC were 31-5 off 5. Winder continued his good form with the bat, making 25 and carrying UWMCC to 47 all out. After some sums from Goodyear, the situation was as follows: UWMCC would go through if they beat Sheffield Hallam (last year’s national finalists) and Portsmouth beat the undoubtedly buzzing Christchurch side.
Game 3 vs Sheffield Hallam
As Dan Goodyear once said, “For a player to be good enough to play for UWMCC, he must be prepared to run through a brick wall for me then come out fighting on the other side.” How right he was, as UWMCC came out to produce a stellar performance against Hallam. In the hour between fixtures, the team emphasised the importance of keeping wickets in hand and giving themselves a chance.
Indeed, it went pretty much according to plan, Teds and Bexson getting us off to a solid start against a strong bowling attack. Even after Teds was run out, Winder settled down nicely again, UWMCC at 43-1 off 5. Losing Bexson and Winder in the same over appeared to have seriously stalled the UWMCC train and a looming cloud of déjà vu was approaching with the score at 57-3 off 7. Two strong overs from Clayden and Goodyear took us to 86-3 off 9, but it was merely a warm-up act for what was to follow in the tenth over…
With Goodyear on strike, the first ball of the over was a wide, and thus an extra ball with it being the last over. Second ball of the over, no-ball six (worth 9). Third ball, Clayds run out backing up. Nonetheless, still 12 runs off the first ball of the over, with Dan ‘the finisher’ Goodyear still on strike. Fourth ball, another no-ball 6. Fifth ball, Goodyear with another 6, Hall’s commentary voice hitting the tone of a 12 year old girl watching One Direction (R.I.P.). Sixth ball, yet another maximum. Goodyear backs out of the next ball during the bowler’s run-up, clearly playing with the fragile bowler’s mind. Seventh ball, absolutely nailed to the back wall fielder, but for a dot. Eighth ball, Goodyear misses (and is somewhat oddly sledged by the extra cover). Ninth ball was the most incredible shot of them all, Goodyear somehow getting the ball to the corner of the back wall despite the fact that he was charging directly at mid-wicket. 39 off the final over, Goodyear finishing on 37* and for me, the day-changing moment, taking a slightly below par score to a momentous 125.
With the momentum in their favour, UWMCC’s confidence was fully flowing, to the extent that Winder began the innings with a rare seam-up delivery, swinging almost down to fine leg. Alas, this confidence was better placed when Clayden took an incredible one-handed catch to dismiss the first Hallam batsman who stood there in a state of shock, convinced he’d hit a maximum only to see those lanky limbs pluck it out of the air. Although Hallam were actually going at a very good rate throughout (they were 63-2 off 6), wickets tumbled as the scoreboard pressure began to build, especially after Clayden’s brilliant over in the seventh. Featuring another great catch by the man himself, the over only went for one run, leaving Hallam 64-3 and needing 61 off 18. Fortunately, there was no Herculean (read Goodyear) style effort to follow from a Hallam player, Bexson taking two wickets in an over, including a sassy waving send off after a clean bowled dismissal, especially considering he’s a dibbly-dobbler. Another caught and bowled, this time for Winder and via the ceiling, and UWMCC had done their bit. Fortunately, Portsmouth (the bloody legends) also did their bit by comfortably beating Christchurch, meaning that from the doldrums of despair, UWMCC had progressed to the national semi-final. After Coventry beat a strong Exeter team to top their group, it meant that the old derby would be played again.
Semi-Final vs Coventry
Having beaten one of last year’s finalists, UWMCC would have to be the eventual winners in Coventry in order to progress any further. Of course, this year’s somewhat subdued Varsity formatting had seen us lose to Coventry for the first time in many years. Somewhat predictably, Cov’s twitter began with a small piece of jibing with regards to this result. However, we all knew that this (given the contrived nature of Varsity this year) was the real fixture of note. Goodyear, winning the toss, would stick with the tried and tested method of putting runs on the board.
This target started well, Teds putting on an indoor batting masterclass off the two overs he faced of the Coventry skipper, Thornton. These two overs went for 25, including two 6s and one 4, and some sensible calling to prevent any run outs. At this point in the day, Teds had adapted his batting perfectly to the Fleming Park hall. Only one chance on his innings (he avoided being run out by Thornton dropping the ball), and Teds had retired in the sixth over, reaching 26 in just 16 balls. Unfortunately, UWMCC couldn’t push on quite as they hoped to, mainly due to the good bowling of Zaman (the leggie), who had figures of 1-11 off his first two overs, Winder the man dismissed. Shortly afterwards Goodyear fell to the Coventry president (wearing the Aggio-Brewe match shirt, will the man ever leave the Varsity fixture?) for just 2 runs, leaving us 64-3 off 8.
With Zaman bowling the ninth over, it was undoubtedly crucial for UWMCC were they to post a defendable score. An iconic paddle sweep from Clayden forced a field change, allowing Chase and Clayden to milk Zaman for more threes, getting 12 off the over. Further, managing 9 off Thornton’s last, UWMCC had got to 85-4 off their 10, which would still require an excellent bowling performance for victory.
UWMCC began excellently, most notably the second over of the innings bowled by Clayds, going for just three runs. After another solid over (this time from Bex) the first breakthrough of the innings occurred, a comfortable run out after some Coventry miscommunication. Next ball however, UWMCC were in dreamland (Hall purring with delight on periscope), as Zaman shuffled over to the leg side in order to counteract the 3-1 off-side field and promptly being bowled round his legs by Winder. With both openers dismissed, Cov were 25-2 off 4 and it was very much game on. A solid over from Chase took the score to 33-2.
What followed then was possibly one of the greatest bowling overs in UWMCC indoor history from Clayds. First ball, Clayds nipped one through the gate as another batsman looked to go leg-side, leading Bexson’s dad to chuckle in awe and Hall to declare “he’s bloody good at squash as well”. Clayden, storming into the team huddle would demand for the others to just “give me the ball”. And rightly so as next ball, Thornton attempted a big drive, only to be caught off the wall by Bexson. Cue absolute delirium in the Fleming Park Leisure Centre and for all those watching at home – Connor Hobbs declaring Clayden his “hero”, Cooper merely stating “gun gun gun”. Clayds’ second over went for just 1 run, taking two wickets – his overall figures 2-4. Inspired by his elder statesman, Rhino joined the party by bowling Coventry’s Pres round his legs for a duck. It was just 25 year old Romi Brah left, but he still needed 40 off the last three overs. Several ropey runs were completed to take the score to 58, but a running mix-up would leave Clayden an easy run-out and it was all over.
A brilliant effort from the boys where every player contributed, coming back from the heartbreak of Christchurch to beat both of last year’s finalists shows the great team spirit Goodyear has created. However they get on tomorrow, all clubmen can be proud of their achievements so far.
Final vs Portsmouth, we await!
Unfortunately, we have been told there is no WiFi so Periscoping the game seems unlikely. If you are interested in travelling to Sheffield, please let Hall know as soon as possible- we have got vehicles driving so no worries about trains. If you can’t, keep an eye on Twitter as there will be live updates, with the first innings due to start at 4.