We began our 2-day game against Durham at the Racecourse Ground needing at least 17 points to overhaul Loughborough and guarantee ourselves a place in the MCCU Challenge Final at Lord’s. Meanwhile, Cardiff were taking on Cambridge down at Fenner’s, knowing that if they got 4 more points from their game they we got from ours, they would overtake us. Two matches, three teams, a Championship title and two spots at Lord’s up for grabs. Perfectly poised.
After the downpour on Monday the weather had done a complete turn-around. After losing the toss the hosts were asked to bat first. Durham, having lost all their previous four 2-day games, were clearly determined not to make it 5 and began very cautiously against some accurate, probing bowling from the seamers. MacDonnell and Clark had advanced slowly before Harry Rouse drew first blood in the 25th over when he trapped Clark leg before with the total on 47.
Three overs before lunch Durham were looking steady on 68 for 1, before George Scott struck 3 times in the space of 7 deliveries in probably his best spell of the season. MacDonnell was his first victim, edging to the safe hands of Logan Weston at slip. Steel then nicked one through to Steve Bullen and just 3 balls later Gibson became another LBW victim. Going in to lunch at 69 for 4 having lost 3 wickets for 1 run, the session had turned Yellow.
Durham battled extremely well in the afternoon session with most batsmen getting in. The whole attack bowled superbly though, Archie Ogden being particularly unlucky, beating the bat with amazing regularity but with nobody being quite good enough to get an edge.
An annoying stand of 76 between Bishnoi and Sohal was ended when Scott got into the action once again, this time taking a good catch of Liam Watkinson to dismiss the latter. A number of steady partnerships edged their score past 250 – albeit slowly – before they were finally all out for 279 from the last ball of the day in the 104th over. There were 4 wickets for Scott, 3 for Ellis-Grewal and omen each for Ogden, Rouse and Watkinson.
Four bowling points in the bag and 280 needed tomorrow to secure the 3 batting points and a first innings win to get the 17 needed to overhaul Loughborough.
Meanwhile, down at Fenners, Cardiff had already secured a first innings win on a day that saw 25 wickets fall and were ell on the way to an outright victory.
There was frustration up at the Racecourse Ground in Durham yesterday as the BUCS fixture was washed out do to an unforecast downpour. However the point gained from the abandoned fixture has guaranteed the Yellows a home tie in the semi-finals – to be be played on Wednesday 17th June (with Thursday as a reserve day).
Our opponents are not known at the moment, although the likelihood is that it will be Loughborough. 1st in the table plays 4th and 2nd plays 3rd. With Oxford having one game left to play against Exeter, they are now favourites to top the group – frustrating, as a win yesterday would have seen us secure top spot!
Cardiff beat Cambridge yesterday so if they win their last game against Solent they’ll pip Durham for the fourth semi spot.
After taking his 49th wicket back on 11th May, Harry Rouse finally hit the 50 mark in a superb spell of 3-16 from 4 overs as the Yellows secured a spot in the MCC / Red Bull T20 Finals Day.
Having received a bye into the Qualifying Final following the late withdrawal of Newcastle University, the Yellows faced Durham MCCU following their 42 run victory over Bristol University. After choosing to bat first, Billy Root’s knock of 69 from 43 balls was the foundation of a total of 164 for 6, with other valuable contributions from Steve Bullen (21), Ryan McKendry (23*) & a last over blast from Chris Harwood (13 off 5) which included two monster maximums. The final 6 balls actually realised 19 runs, McKendry also lifting the ball over the ropes.
Two wickets in Alex Lilley’s first 8 balls reduced Durham to 7 for 2 before Steel & MacDonnell put on a threatening stand of 49 in only 4.1 overs before the Durham skipper Steel swung wildly at Joe Ellis-Grewal and lost his leg stump. MacDonnell was stumped by Wakefield off the same bowler, but it was Rouse’s tight spell and 3 wickets that really put a strangle on the North-East boys as they finished up losing the last wicket to the first ball of the last over with their total on 140.
Rouse’s hairstyles may have changed over his years in the squad but his consistency with the ball has remained. He becomes only the 10th player ever to hit the half-century of wickets in competitive games and now lies in joint 5th spot with Tom Glover on 52 scalps. However, he has some way to get the top spot of 85 wickets, shared by Daniel Woods and Alex MacQueen.
The win means that we now travel down to Oxford for the Finals Day on Monday 15th June. Durham also qualified as best runner-up on run rate and will be joined by the winners of the other two qualifying groups – Loughborough and Oxford. There will be two semi-finals (draw on Monday 8th) before the final – where the winners will get an all-expenses trip to India to represent England in the Red Bull Campus Cricket Global Finals.
Following our win against Loughborough we go into our 2 week break over the examination period with a healthy lead at the top of the MCCU Challenge 2-day table, but having played a game more than all the other teams apart from Oxford.
We’ll all be keeping a close eye on the other games over this period. However, if we beat Durham in our final game next month it should secure us the championship – although an Outright Win for one of our other rivals (where they bowl out the opposition twice) could upset the applecart slightly. Remember, the top two teams meet in the Challenge Final at Lord’s on Tuesday 23rd June.
* Loughborough deducted 6 pts for slow over rate
20/21 May - Loughborough v Cambridge
27/28 May - Oxford v Loughborough
2/3 June - Durham v Cardiff
8/9 June - Cambridge v Cardiff
Durham v Leeds Bradford
Most cricket pundits will agree that the key to building a decent team total is partnerships – two batsmen helping each other along, rotating the strike, frustrating the bowlers, relying on each others strengths and dominating the innings to add as many runs together as they can for the team.
One of the reasons for Leeds Bradford’s impressive start to the season has been the amazing run of partnerships between Christian Davis & Billy Root. Since the county games finished, when the two have batted together they have, more often than not, run the bowling attacks ragged. Their roll of honour reads:
That’s a total of 723 in 7 innings at an average of 144.60! The two batsmen clearly compliment each other – one left handed and short(ish), the other right-handed and tall – but both equally destructive in their own way. Their partnership at Solent was particularly savage when they added 172 from only 111 balls. It’s also clear from the picture to the right that they enjoy each others’ success. Or maybe they just like hugging.
Davis commented, “It’s always a pleasure to bat with Rooty. We are different batters with different approaches but I think we compliment each other and that is why we have had so many good partnerships. He is tenacious and aggressive and I’m a little more laid back. There aren’t any secrets to big partnerships however; it just helps that we are both in pretty decent form!”
And decent form they are most certainly in. So far this season Root has scored 741 runs at an average of 67.36 with 3 fifties and 3 hundreds and his skipper has totalled 429 runs at 47.67 with 3 fifties and 1 hundred. These totals don’t include the friendly against a strong MCC team when Root scored 106* and Davis made 69!!
Root himself said; “I couldn’t ask for a better partner at the crease bar Joe Root at the moment.”
Praise indeed and an indication of the bond that both batsmen are forging both on and off the field.
As the Yellows now take a two week break before resuming their season with the T20 Group stages on 5th June, it’s hoped that the two will be able to carry on from where they’ve left off. Rooty in particular seems to be keeping his eye in – amassing an unbeaten 218 for Sheffield Collegiate against Doncaster Town in the Yorkshire Premier League last weekend!
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.
An indicator as to how good a team is often comes down to its’ strength in depth – the fact that it doesn’t rely on a couple of individuals. So far this season the bulk of our runs have flowed from the bats of Steve Bullen, Bill Root and Christian Davis, so victory against Loughborough when these three only contributed 46 between them was particularly sweet. Although ANY victory against Lufbra is ALWAYS sweet.
After winning the toss & batting, to be approaching the half-way stage of the innings at 83 for 6 wasn’t ideal following some loose batting and penetrative bowling from Akram & McKinley. With Ryan McKendry playing his first Yellows innings and only 4 wickets left in the tank, it was a case of just giving the bowlers something to bowl at – 150, 160?
The flame-haired York all-rounder went on to make one the most composed debut knocks in recent memory. After playing & missing at a couple early on he then rarely made an error, stroking the ball into gaps around the field and running superbly with Harry Rouse. The pair had added an invaluable 69 for the 7th wicket in just over 15 overs before Rouse was caught behind off Toby Lester, having scored 31 from 48 balls (2x4s).
McKendry remained unflustered, adding a further 64 with Alex Lilley (28 from 34 with 3x4s) and when Joe Ellis-Grewal was run out from the last ball of the innings with the total on 225 he walked off unbeaten having scored 64 from 84 balls (5x4s) in a superb display of intelligent one-day batting. The 2nd half of the innings had produced 142 for 4 – a tremendous turnaround.
McKendry was soon to make his mark when Loughborough batted. After Lilley induced a nick to Bullen from Anish Patel off only the 3rd ball of the innings, he pounced 5 balls later to run out Canadian international Nitish Kumar.
Karim & Azad led a recovery with a stand of 79, Weston ending it with a sharp return catch. McKendry then claimed his first Yellows wicket by trapping Prowse in front and followed up 4 overs later by bowling Lowen to reduce the visitors to 103 for 5. Azad was still looking comfortable but his downfall came when he tried to sweep Ellis-Grewal and was bowled round his legs for 73.
The spin trio of McKendry, Ellis-Grewal & Weston really took a grip on the game and despite a fine knock from Tim Le Breton, a couple of stumpings from Bullen & a ripper to bowl Gamble gave Jegsy his best-ever figures of 4 for 42. The skipper took a catch at cover to secure victory – as well as giving Rouse his 49th Leeds Bradford wicket.
A further sign of the team’s strength in depth was the fact that both Alex Lilley & Archie Ogden pulled up injured in the innings and were only able to bowl 6 overs between them. McKendry’s outstanding figures of 10-2-26-2, together with his 64 not out & key run out made the Man of the Match decision an easy one!!