A good measure of the strength and spirit of a team is how they can bounce back from adversity. Leeds Bradford’s ruthless demolition of Oxford in their 2-day MCCU Challenge fixture following defeat against the same team in the BUCS competition showed they have these assets in abundance, whilst gaining a win on the first innings by a massive 274 runs.
After closing Day 1 on 486 for 7, Christian Davis decided to bat on for a few overs to get over the 500 mark. George Scott was caught at long on for 58 (55 balls, 5×4, 1×6) and when Davis declared with the total on a record-breaking 506 for 8 Alex Lilley was undefeated on 65 (50 balls, 8×4, 1×6).
In glorious sunshine for a 3rd successive day and on a wicket still showing little assistance to the bowlers, getting 10 wickets in 100 overs was going to be a tough job. Knowing that reaching there target was pretty much out of the equation for the Oxford boys, Steve Leach & Henry Hughes began cautiously yet solidly against Lilley & Doug Pratt. Davis rotated his bowlers, knowing each would have a heavy workload through the day, and it was Liam Watkinson who struck first in the 15th over when Leach drove loosely and edged to the safe hands of Logan Weston at second slip with the total on 36.
Harry Rouse came into the attack, bowling with good pace and decided to test the batsmen with a few bouncers. With two men out Hughes fell into the trap, pulling a short one to Joe Ellis-Grewal at deep backward square to reduce the visitors to 46 for 2. The blonde all-rounder struck again 4 overs later when a brilliant yorker was too good for Lloyd Paternott. It was a delivery – and a celebration – that Yorkshire’s Jack Brooks would have been proud of! Lloyd Sabin and Luke Webb began to rebuild to ensure no further wickets were lost before lunch and had extended their partnership to 52 when Pratt found Sabin’s edge, Bullen doing the rest. This was the first of 4 wickets for 15 runs, Pratt striking again 10 balls later when a leading edge from Webb was taken by Scott at 4th slip, the seamer at this point having taken 2 for 10 from 10 overs.
Pratt the claimed his 3rd scalp when Ellis edged to Lilley at 3rd slip before Jack Myers took his first wicket for the Yellows when Jack McIver offered no shot & was given out leg before.
Why, why, why . . . McIver; Bye, bye, bye . . . McIver.
At 122/7 Davis’s biggest problem was deciding whether they should bat again or have another bowl in a bid to gain extra bonus points. However, Sam Weller, the Oxford skipper and Bruno Broughton combined to frustrate the tiring attack and at tea the Dark Blues were 171 for 7. They extended their partnership after the break to 80 in just under 30 overs before Watkinson made the crucial breakthrough. Turning to off spin as opposed to his usual medium pace, the Lancastrian lured Broughton to edge to a jubilant Davis.
Weller was still digging in, in a valiant bid to secure a draw for his team but his vigil came to an end after 131 minutes and 145 balls when he tried to turn Pratt to the leg side, only for a leading edge to spoon the ball up to Davis at cover. The last-wicket pair of Sakande & Grundy would have to bat for another 12 overs in order for the points to be shared but with Pratt eagerly searching for his 5th wicket and still bowling at a fair lick, Sakande edged him to third slip where a helmeted Billy Root took a sharp catch at head height to dismiss the visitors for 232.
With 8 overs still left in the day the Yellows went in to bat again, searching for the further 75 runs required for an additional batting point. Surely 125 for two batting points would be unrealistic?
Bullen & Thompson tucked into Sakande & McIver with relish, Thompson even dispatching the first ball of his innings for 6!! Bullen was run out in the frantic search for quick runs but then a spectacular cameo from Root (40 from 12 balls, 2×4 & 5×6) including 23 off one over from Sakande and Thommo’s equally dashing 34 from 19 balls (3×4, 2×6) made the 125 look like a possibility!! After they both fell in quick succession Weston & Scott took up the challenge but task proved just too much, the overs running out with the score on 108 for 3.
All in all a fantastic couple of days work from the boys – good, consistent batting throughout the order plus patient, disciplined bowling – and only a couple of errors in the field that spring to mind.
Captain Davis hailed Pratt as Man of the Match for his 5 for 33 from 20.1 overs – a monumental effort on such a track and in amazing weather for April at Weetwood. Few would argue despite many other solid performances.
It was good to see a decent crowd watching the last 3 days cricket and England Rugby Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster, was particularly welcome – as well as being extremely impressed with the standard of cricket on show!
Doug Pratt enjoying a cold one after his 5 for 33
Leeds Bradford 19 points, Oxford 6 points