Following on from their success in the first and second rounds, the UEA men’s first team secured a place in the quarter finals of the BUCS indoor championship for the first time in UEA history. With three games to play, and two victories required to progress, UEA defeated both Edinburgh and Loughborough in their first two encounters to book a place in the business end of the championship.
UEA’s initial clash with Edinburgh’s second team set the precedent for the day. After winning the toss, UEA scored 77 from their allotted ten overs, with Harry Bailey top-scoring with 30. With runs perhaps not as free-flowing as in previous games, some excellent UEA bowling and fielding ensured that 77 remained a competitive total. Edinburgh succumbed to the pressure, falling to 55 all out from nine overs, with some particularly clever work behind the stumps from Richard Ewart. Captain Jake Lawrence and Brendan-James Smith were the pick of the bowlers, claiming two wickets apiece to seal victory for UEA and set them up nicely for the next match.
Next up was an in-form Loughborough second team, who traditionally make it difficult for the opposition. UEA rose to the challenge; batting first again, they scored 102 runs from ten overs. This time, Theeshan Satkunaseelan and Richard Ewart stepped up with the bat to help post an imposing total. In reply, Loughborough faltered early on, losing clusters of wickets and failed to establish any meaningful partnerships. 47 all out was their final total – a dominant display from the UEA bowlers, in particular Jake Lawrence who picked up another three wickets, saw another comprehensive victory secured for UEA. The victory guaranteed progression into the next round of the tournament with one game remaining.
UEA’s final match of the day saw them pitted against a strong Manchester first team. Although technically a dead rubber – both teams had assured qualification from the previous two matches – UEA looked to end the day with a flawless winning streak. Having batted first, UEA scored 72 with helpful contributions from both Lawrence and Ewart, which at first glance certainly appeared a few runs too short. However, this was far from the case – some restrictive bowling kept UEA in the game, but ultimately failed to unsettle the Manchester batsmen, managing to grab only two wickets. With cricket being a game of such small margins, this match lived up to those expectations, with Manchester chasing down UEA’s total with only two balls to spare.
Despite ending the day on a loss, UEA confirmed that they have the quality in their team to keep their indoor campaign hopes alive. Speaking to Lawrence after an enthralling day, he praised the attitude and performances of his team, claiming that ‘at our best we can beat anyone, despite knowing what a tough group we had.’ When asked about the mindset of his players he asserted that the team ‘can’t wait for the next round.’ With such a great opportunity to progress to the finals of the championship, there can be no doubt that this run of success is the greatest revival of UEA cricket in recent memory.