UEA’s cricket teams won both their indoor matches against Essex, avenging last year’s heavy defeat and bringing a successful indoor season to a close.
The first team won with just one ball and wicket to spare while the strong second team had earlier beaten the away side with relative ease.
Bowling first, the first team got off to an excellent start after captain Ash Layer superbly ran out an Essex opener who had made the poor decision to risk a quick single to Layer’s arm. This gave UEA important momentum in the early stages of the match.
However, Essex’s number three, Saim Hussain picked up threes with ease and kept the scoreboard ticking alongside the remaining opener.
These two batsmen both reached 25 and retired which allowed the home team to claw back the run rate with Essex’s lower order unable to get away some excellent death bowling. This bowling, coupled with tidy glovework behind the stumps and fine fielding, including a spectacular reflex catch from Harry Bailey, meant that Essex lost regular wickets in the latter stages of their innings and finished on 102.
In their reply, UEA got off to a good start with wayward bowling allowing the batting side to reach 44-0 after just three overs. UEA’s openers, Jake Lawrence and Theeshan Seelan continued to pick up threes and boundaries and were 64 without loss at the halfway point before a questionable umpiring decision saw Lawrence given out LBW to Hussain.
This handed Essex the momentum which they successfully capitalised on, taking regular wickets. The game was still UEA’s to lose however, with just seven needed from eight balls and Seelan back at the crease having retired on 25 earlier.
He was then run out to end a fine innings, leaving Ashwin Bhatt, UEA’s last man standing, requiring seven to win from the final over. Pressure was showing on both batsmen and fielders in front of a large and loud crowd as Essex missed a chance to win the game with a run out opportunity three balls into the over.
Victory was finally sealed for the UEA first team after Bhatt, needing two to win from two balls, scored the winning runs with the help of an overthrow to seal the narrowest of victories.
The first team’s win had been inspired by a fantastic all-round performance from the second team, who had earlier chased down 93 with the loss of just one wicket and with plenty of balls to spare.
Electing to field first seemed the right decision after tight bowling put pressure on Essex’s openers. Ben Harrison took the first wicket and despite the other opener retiring on 25, the Blades’ run-rate was never out of the bowling side’s control.
Cricket’s President Mayur Gami clean bowled an Essex batsman to send the crowd wild and, alongside excellent fielding, pegged the away side back and ensured they never threatened to reach a three figure total, eventually ending on 93-5.
The second team’s opening batsmen, captain Sean Jenkins and Jack Dudleston rotated the strike well, while still managing to hit the bad ball to the boundary when it came. This ensured the required run-rate was never an issue and both batsmen reached 25, getting UEA off to the best possible start.
With the middle order continuing to bat well, the home side only needed twelve to win off the final three overs. Rather than leave it late, numbers four and five, Gami and Harrison, decided to end the game swiftly.
Fittingly, it was President Mayur Gami that finished the match off, smashing a straight six to win the game for UEA.
First team captain Ash Layer described the two wins as ‘a great achievement for a pretty new and inexperienced squad’ and he hailed both teams for ‘holding [their] nerve in the pressure of big games’.
Gami, who played in the unsuccessful Derby Day match last year spoke of how ‘we weren’t happy with ourselves [last year] … We picked ourselves up at the start of the year, had a good BUCS campaign and this was the icing on the cake … We’re happy and looking forward to the summer with confidence’.