Over the 15 seasons that Leeds Bradford MCCU has been in existence, wins against Loughborough have been few and far between. We have come close on numerous occasions, often falling just before the finishing line after pressing the self-destruct button, other times being well and truly outplayed, so to record our first-ever victory over these arch-rivals in a 2-day game was particularly sweet.
Following a 23-run win in the BUCS game the previous day, the Yellows were without the bowling services of this season’s leading wicket-taker, Alex Lilley, due to a side strain (although he was playing as a batsman) as well as left-arm seamer Archie Ogden. Chris Harwood came into the team for his debut.
Loughborough batted first after winning the toss on an extremely windy & cold day! Their innings consisted of a number of ‘steady’ partnerships but only one over 50 – & that was only one run over that mark. Whenever a stand was beginning to look threatening the Yellows bowlers managed to break it, Doug Pratt claiming the first two wickets of Mark Best (scorer of a double-hundred two weeks ago) and captain Anish Patel.
At 77 for 2 just before the lunch break and with two international batsmen in Irfan Karim (Kenya) and Nitash Kumar (Canada) at the crease, a 3rd wicket before lunch would seal a productive morning and Liam Watkinson duly obliged. Once again reverting to off-spin as opposed to his usual seam bowling due to an ankle injury, he claimed the scalp of Karim when he trapped him in front just before picking up his knife and fork to make the score at the break 81 for 3.
The afternoon session saw the bowlers continue to chip in with wickets to end dangerous-looking stands and at 219 for 7 there were hopes that Loughborough could be dismissed before claiming their 3rd batting point. However, an 8th wicket collaboration of 51 between Akram and McKinley took them to 270. Akram & Gamble added a further 21 for the 9th wicket and when Watkinson took his 4th wicket (4-82 from 23.5 overs) to wrap the innings up in the 85th over, the total was on 296 – so 4 bowling points to Leeds, 3 batting points to Loughborough.
With 19 overs left in the day the Yellows closed on 53 for 1, Henry Thompson being the victim after falling leg before to Toby Lester with the score on 3.
Steve Bullen and Billy Root began confidently on Wednesday in bright sunshine and had added 30 to the overnight score in 8 overs before Bullen was caught behind by Burgess for 31. Christian Davis and Root have forged a prolific partnership this season, having shared 3 century stands before this game. That became 4 as they added 137 for the 3rd wicket – a record for any wicket in 2-day games v Loughborough. At 220 for 2 a first innings win – and first ever 2-day win against these opponents – looked a formality. But we all now how this game can bite you on the posterior.
Davis fell to a loose shot after scoring 66, Weston was caught behind, Root was (rightly or wrongly) adjudged leg before having got to 114 – his 3rd ton of the season – and suddenly we were 238 for 5. Harry Rouse and George Scott tried to mount a recovery but Rouse became Burgess’s 3rd victim behind the stumps before Scott was run out in a terrible mix-up with Alex Lilley, both batsmen standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the same end. 255 for 7 and still 42 required with the Loughborough tails well & truly up.
Liam Watkinson was then clean bowled by Stuart Whittigham and when Joe Ellis-Grewal was caught by Le Breton – having been hit on the head, shoulder and arm, the Yellows were still 25 adrift with last man Harwood striding to the crease on debut.
Thereby followed one of the more memorable first knocks for the team. In a nail-biting finale, knowing that defeat could hamper any ambitions of a top two finish and a place in the Challenge Final at Lord’s – let alone any hopes of winning the 2-day Championship outright – the powerfully-built right-hander stepped back and cut his first ball for four. A top-edge over the keeper landed safely before further bludgeoning shots hit the Purples like hammer-blows.
With the Davis team (captain and manager) unable to move from their spot sitting on the roller and clutching an old bail each for luck, Harwood continued showing complete disdain for the pace attack, striking 4x4s and 1×6 as he took his team to a first innings win and a 4th batting point, the total sitting at 315 when Lilley became the last man out. Lilley’s own contribution can’t be under-estimated. He remained (apparently) unflustered following the run out of Scott and scored an invaluable 23 himself in just over an hour to help see his side home.
With 31 overs still left in the day Loughborough went in to bat again in search of extra much-needed bonus points – particularly after hearing they were were being docked 6 points for a slow over rate!
A first-ever 2-day win over Loughborough to go with the BUCS win earlier in the week and 18 points from the game. Time for beers on the pitch!!
Scorecard can be accessed via the link on our Fixtures/Results page.