UEA Men’s first and second teams opened their indoor campaigns in the BUCS Midlands C Division with positive starts for what promises to be a thrilling season. Both teams travelled to Leicester to open their account, which saw our first team comfortably top the table unbeaten in three games with nine points. Meanwhile, the second team gained only three points and sit near the bottom of the table with four games remaining.
The first match of the day saw both UEA teams pitted against one another, a clash which first team captain Jake Lawrence conceded is ‘always a challenge’. Despite this, a strong performance all-round saw UEA’s first team to a comfortable victory. Useful contributions with the bat from Lawrence (29*) and Jack Dudleston (27*) allowed the team to post a big first innings total. 139 for the loss of just three wickets from their ten overs was the result.
UEA’s second team struggled initially in reply, losing five of their six wickets for just seven runs. This was brought about through some good spells of bowling from both Harry Bailey (two wickets) and Brendan-James Smith (two wickets). However, UEA second’s Ben Wiles dug in to make a commendable 28, but it was not enough as the team were bowled out for 53 in the eighth over. The result: an 86-run victory for the UEA first team.
Next, Northampton and UEA’s first teams were pitched against one another. Batting first, UEA faltered early on, losing Lawrence, Bailey and Smith cheaply. Dudleston and Theeshan Satkunaseelan re-convened at the crease and battled hard to lead UEA to a defendable score of 78 all out from nine overs. It was UEA’s discipline in the field that truly shone. Useful scalps from Lawrence (3 wickets) and Smith (2 wickets) helped to prevent any partnerships from developing.
Richard Ewart, an ‘ever-reliable’ stalwart of UEA Cricket according to Lawrence, delivered some excellent performances with the ball, but also behind the stumps with the gloves. Northampton were restricted to 65 from their ten overs, recording a second victory of the day for the UEA first team by 13 runs.
UEA first’s final game of the day was played against Anglia Ruskin 2’s. Ruskin were put into bat by UEA, and following the formula of the day, UEA’s bowlers excelled. Tight bowling and fielding performances meant that Ruskin were limited in their run-scoring, making 79 for the loss of five wickets from their ten overs. Lawrence finished with another two wickets to his name, with Smith taking two. UEA’s run chase was steady, but led to a close finish, with Dudleston and Smith finishing the game off with just three balls to spare. Three wins from three games for UEA 1’s completed a thrilling day of cricket.
Lawrence reflected: ‘[I]t was a really positive weekend for both teams and the squad is as strong as I’ve seen in my time at UEA.’
The Midlands C table was perfectly poised as the second-half of fixtures got underway on Saturday 24 November. The UEA first team have a strong chance to proceed to the championship for the first time in five years, with four matches remaining to cement their place at the top of the table. For the UEA seconds, there remains a great opportunity to also progress through to the trophy stage of the competition.
What truly makes the UEA second team an exciting prospect is their relative inexperience. Lawrence commented on this spectacle, claiming that they had shown ‘great promise in a team with a number of freshers who had never played indoor cricket before.’ Time will tell as to whether both teams can capitalise on their strong positions in the competition, but the opportunity is certainly there for the taking.