On Sunday 31st January, Cardiff University Men’s Cricket Club were in BUCS Indoor Cricket action against the University of Bath and the University of South Wales’ firsts. The two matches were the final set of fixtures in the group stage of the competition, with Cardiff requiring two wins from two in order to have a chance of qualifying for the next stage in a ‘Best Runners-Up’ spot.
First up for Cardiff were the University of Bath, a team with just one win to their name. Fielding a team of six first-year students, CUCC were led for the first time by Todd Wilcox who got his leadership campaign off to a fine start by winning the toss. After choosing to bat first, Cardiff were in trouble early on as Jack Thorpe-Yon (3), Wilcox (1) and wicket-keeper Dan Clouting (2) departed in quick succession. CUCC were grateful to opener Joe Ludlow (53) however, who, after a scare on three, continued scoring runs at a quick rate to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Ludlow found support in Connor Whetstone (15), with the pair putting on 41 runs. Once Whetstone was dismissed, though, Andrew Brewster quickly followed for a duck, leaving Ludlow to face the rest of the innings on his own. Undaunted, Ludlow asserted himself on the Bath bowling attack, hitting three sixes on the way to a fantastic half-century (an exceptionally rare achievement in indoor cricket). Ludlow was finally dismissed with one ball of the innings remaining, leaving Cardiff all out for 94.
Chasing 95 to win, Bath got off to a strong start and, despite an early Brewster wicket, Cardiff were behind the eight-ball. However, the introduction of Whetstone’s leg-spin proved to be the decisive moment in the contest as his spell of 2-13 turned the game on its head. Ludlow (1-16) and Brewster (2-23) also chipped in with wickets to leave Bath requiring 17 runs off three overs with one wicket spare. Captain Wilcox took on the responsibility to bowl the ninth over himself and, although he conceded eight runs off his first three balls, produced a wonderful in-swinging delivery to castle the final Bath batsman, giving Cardiff a tight three-run victory as Bath were bowled out for 91.
Cardiff’s final match of the group stage was a contest with University of South Wales’ firsts. Wilcox decided to bat first after winning the toss against a side with an identical win/loss record. Once again, Ludlow (35) led the way with the bat. However, contrary to the Bath fixture, he wasn’t on his own. Thorpe-Yon (20) and Wilcox (11) offered support, giving Clouting (24) and Ludlow a platform for some late innings hitting. With Ludlow dismissed off the final ball of the innings, Cardiff posted a very competitive 124 all out from their ten overs.
This set the stage for one of the best spells of indoor bowling in the club’s history as Whetstone (4-8) ripped through the USW batting line-up before their run chase could get started. Given the responsibility of opening the bowling by Wilcox, Whetstone produced a superb spell of leg spin. Bowling with great turn, control and variation, Whetstone ripped through the USW batting line up in no time at all, including a superbly flighted delivery that drifted in on leg stump before turning and beating the batsman’s outside edge to clip off stump. Wilcox (1-13) and Ludlow (1-3) wrapped up the tail as USW were all out for 39, giving CUCC an emphatic 85-run victory.
Two wins from two on Sunday gives Cardiff a record of five wins and two losses, the best return in the club’s history and faint hopes of qualification for the next stage of BUCS competition as a ‘Best Runner-Up’. In all likelihood, however, this indoor season will be remembered as one for the emergence of a number of talented young performers. The batting qualities displayed throughout the Indoor campaign by Thorpe-Yon and Ludlow in particular are cause for much optimism for years to come, as is the seam bowling from Brewster and Wilcox. Whetstone, whose spin-bowling bordered on unplayable, should prosper on turning pitches during the outdoor season in tandem with first-team captain Joe Collings-Wells, who, in addition to scoring 130 runs without being dismissed in four innings, took seven wickets at an average of 6.7 in indoor competition.
The men’s club will be running a Give it a Go session on Sunday 21st February at Talybont Sports Centre and indoor pre-season training is well underway with the outdoor BUCS season now fast-approaching. As well as this, the First XI have begun preparations for the highly anticipated Varsity match with Swansea on 20th April, hoping this time to secure a fourth successive win.
For more information on joining, or taking part in next week’s ‘Give it a Go’ session, contact the club at email@example.com.