On Saturday 20th February an unchanged VI of Goodyear, Teds, Bex, Rooty, Clayden and Rhino travelled to Edgbaston for the Northern Knockout stage of BUCS indoors.
Our first game was against Keele, things not getting off to a great start with Goodyear losing the toss for only the second time in 8 games and UWMCC being asked to chase a score, an outcome which had resulted in our only loss thus far. However, a fast start with a run out and wicket maiden from Bex, leaving Keele 10-2 after 2 overs, made us feel more confident of restricting them to a gettable score. A good recovery from Keele’s middle order saw them finish on 90-3 off their 10 overs.
A positive opening partnership of 36 between Teds and Bex was just what we needed to settle the nerves. It was ended in the most unfortunate manner with the former being run out backing up after the bowler dropped a caught and bowled chance off a Bexson drive. A minor collapse ensued leaving UWMCC teetering at 45-3 and the old adage of runs on the board seemed to be overwhelming us. However, Goodyear (25*) and Clayden (19*) managed to somewhat steady the ship knocking the ball around nicely and playing risk-free cricket. Unfortunately the former was forced to retire after the first ball of the last over, leaving the new batsman Rhino on strike needing 3 off the last 5 balls. After a tentative play and miss at his first ball Rhino inside edged/played and missed/left the next ball, either way its ended up going through the keepers legs to the back wall and Clayden has charged through to complete the run which saw UWMCC home with 3 balls to spare.
Next up we faced Strathclyde who had beaten Liverpool in their first game. Spurred on by the arrival of Mr President (Kraus) and the news that we had been invited to bat first by our Scottish counterparts we set about building a competitive score. A classy innings from Teds (28) and some deft touches from Clayden (31*), including some Morgan-esque reverse sweeps helped UWMCC to a solid, but not necessarily match-winning total of 103.
A fast start was what was needed and the boys responded magnificently reducing Strathclyde to 25-4 in no time. This was owing to a wicket for Rhino, a run out, and a hostile first over from Clayden which saw 2 batsman only able to fend off rearing deliveries to Goodyear behind the stumps. A little lull in proceedings ensued allowing Strathclyde to progress to 71 before Clayden returned to take a very casual one handed caught and bowled to cap a fine all round performance from him. Our attention then turned to the game taking place on the adjacent pitch between Keele and Liverpool, knowing that a Keele win would see us secure a place in the last 8 with a game to spare. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Keele failed to defend 12 off the last over, largely owing to a wide followed by a no ball to see Liverpool home.
Onwards we went to our final game against Liverpool knowing a win would not only guarantee us qualification to the final 8, but also as group winners which could be advantageous in terms of the draw for the next round. Batting first once again Teds produced another exquisite indoor innings, reaching his 25 in just 11 balls. After Clayden once again lived up to his newfound all-rounder role and retired on 25 UWMCC were sitting pretty on 91-2 with 3 overs left. However, what followed was a spectacular collapse even by UWMCC standards as we slumped to 105-6 and even worse than this committed the cardinal sin of indoor cricket, being bowled out with 4 balls of the innings still remaining, leaving the door wide open for a Liverpool run chase, which would put them back in the hunt for qualification.
A run out and a clean bowled from Bex with a peach of an in-swinger inside the first 2 overs helped us to get on top early doors. In total there were 4 run outs in the Liverpool innings, including an incredible off balance direct hit with one stump to aim at from Rooty, which left Liverpool in trouble at 53-4. However, they had one classy batsman who came back in as last man standing and looked capable of taking Liverpool close before rather fittingly, one final bit of magic in the field from Man of the Day Clayden saw him run out with the score on 73, sparking jubilant celebrations amongst the UWMCC boys.
A big thanks to Charlie Turner and Kraus for scoring and providing an excellent twitter commentary respectively. 3 wins out of 3 extends our overall BUCS indoor record to 9 wins from 10, a stellar effort from everyone who has played this year and is testament to the attitude and commitment the boys have shown each week. And to make the final 8 nationally is something we should all be very proud of. The draw for the final 8 has been confirmed and on Sunday 13th March we shall be travelling to London to face Sheffield Hallam, Portsmouth and Canterbury CC as we look to continue our journey along the road to ‘Big BUCS Wednesday’.