© 2019 – Nicolas Rackow for OUCC
(By Alice Hart)
On Wednesday 19th June, Oxford MCCU played our final BUCS match against league-leaders Loughborough II’s. We had high expectations for the Loughborough II’s, knowing that they had comfortably beaten all other teams in our league (and that they had the benefit of Nick’s coaching expertise in Desert Springs). However, we had even higher expectations of the Loughborough facilities, which we were told were world-class and frequently used by England.
Yet on this cold, grey Wednesday afternoon, we were confronted with a semi-waterlogged pitch in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields of cows (although this did make a wonderful addition to the cow corner chat).
Oxford were confident going into the match, with a strong line-up, including England academy player Maia Bouchier, who would prove to be handy with both the ball and bat. Oxford fielded first, with Sam ‘ginger’* Bennett and Bouchier opening the bowling. The match started well for Oxford: the bowlers achieved 3-60 off the first 10 overs, with wickets for Bennett, Elodie ‘leg spin’* Harbourne, and Alex ‘tall’* Skinner.
However, the number 3 batsman for Loughborough was able to cope with the variety of bowling that she faced from Oxford, achieving 72 runs. After our initial three wickets, Oxford were unable to take any more until the 28th over. Loughborough batted out the 30 overs to achieve a chaseable 180 runs.
After a very enjoyable match tea, it was over to the batters to try and beat the infamous Loughborough IIs. Controversially, our skipper Vanessa Picker did not open, leaving this job to the opening bowlers. However, not soon after, Picker joined Bouchier at the crease when Bennett (who needed to leave early) was bowled in the 3rd over. Oxford hoped for a repeat of the Picker-Bouchier partnership that had secured our win against MCC just a few weeks earlier.
Picker and Bouchier batted admirably, combining quick singles with impressive boundaries. However, just as Oxford were building up momentum, Bouchier started to feel unwell, and left the pitch, allowing Caitlin ‘the thrower’* Deacock to show us her talent. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for Deacock, who was dismissed for a duck.
Fortunately, Bouchier was now well enough to return to the pitch to resume her impressive partnership with Picker. The Bouchier-Picker partnership continued to do well, more-or-less matching Loughborough’s run-rate. However, with Oxford on 160 with just 5 overs to go, Bouchier was run out, ending on a huge 88 (66) runs, leaving 21 runs required off 4 overs for the win.
Alex ‘tall’* Skinner took over the chase, but was bowled for a duck. Livvy Lee-Smith took her place, and Oxford were hoping for a solid partnership for our usual openers. However, it was not to be. Lee-Smith was dismissed for 5 in the final over. Shona McNab and Izzy Harrison then valiantly tried to get to the 180 target in partnership with Picker, but unfortunately this was not enough to beat Loughborough. Oxford lost by just 4 runs, with Picker ending on a very respectable 43 (90).
Overall, it was a great day of cricket, and the closest match of the season. The day was completed with a fun end of season dinner for the whole of OUCC. Although we did not come away with a victory, we had played extremely well, and this increased our confidence going into the final game of our season, the 50-over Varsity match.
* These were the names given to the Oxford bowlers by the Loughborough scorers in order to identify them on the pitch. The writer of this report found the nicknames incredibly amusing, and thought that it was worthwhile including them, to add depth and wit to what might otherwise be a rather dry match report. They may be excluded if deemed necessary.
Summary of scores:
Loughborough 4/180 (30 overs)
Bennett 2/31 (6)
Skinner 1/31 (5)
Harbourne 1/37 (5)
Oxford 5/176 (30 overs)
Picker 43 not out