© 2019 – Nicolas Rackow for OUCC
The Royal Park looked resplendent as last year’s Middlesex League Champions hosted the Blues in glorious sunshine, accompanied by a score of deer beyond the boundary. Hargrave won the toss in a 40 overs-per-side match, and batted on a firm flat pitch which was more reminiscent of June than mid-April, and looked full of runs (the previous day, a combined total of 500 runs had been scored when the hosts out-played Cambridge).
Murphy and Hargrave began positively against tidy opening bowling, and had scored 31 in 5 overs when both were out in quick succession. The left-arm spin of Abdullah Nazir was introduced early, and he kept all the batsmen on their mettle, finishing with the outstanding figures of 8-2-25-3. By the end of his spell, after 23 overs, Hamza, Dunnett, Mohamed and Job had all been dismissed, and the score was 94-6. Meanwhile Gnodde began by carefully playing himself in although he hit 3 boundaries off Abdullah; the only batsman to do so. Barker kept him company for a while but when he was dismissed at 110-7 from 28 overs, prospects of even a par total looked bleak. Mingard joined Gnodde and together they set about restoring the innings; the former content to keep the bowlers out and get off-strike whenever possible, the latter becoming more aggressive. Against an entirely seam attack, runs began to flow, so that with 6 overs left, the score was 162-7. The return of the opening bowlers signalled ‘blitzkrieg’ as 86 runs were added. Gnodde hit the ball to all parts in a ferocious display of unrestrained hitting: overall he scored 127 from 90 balls with 6 sixes (most of which cleared the boundary by at least 10 yards) and 14 fours; his last 50 runs came in just 17 balls. Mingard batted with increasing confidence in his own right, and together they added 126 in just 12 overs. The game had been turned on its head, and Oxford finished on 236-7, which was going to be a challenging target.
Teddington had a strong batting line-up, and played with positive intent from the start. Barker meanwhile bowled an outstanding spell of brisk swing bowling 6-0-36-4, dismissing Patel, Daneel (South African Cambridge Blue 2020), Naylor and the prolific Aussie skipper Pryde, at which point the score was 72-4, with the hosts up with the run-rate. Elliott, Kottler and Wright all continued to play positively, but left-arm spinner Dunnett and leg-spinner Mingard bowled effectively in tandem, the former with excellent figures of 8-0-31-2 on a flat pitch, so that with 10 overs remaining, the hosts were 165-6. Three wickets then fell in quick succession to off-spinners Hamza (5-0-17-2) and Mohammed, and the game looked over at 170-9. Last man Donnelly had other ideas and he dispatched the latter’s last over for 32 (including 4 massive sixes), so that 26 were required from 24 deliveries, and the game was back in the balance. Fisher and Barker returned, and the latter completed a richly deserved 5 wicket haul when Murphy caught an excellent catch at long-off – his third catch in the deep. Teddington finished on 216 all out (Donnelly 38 from 21 balls), so that OUCC won an excellent match by 21 runs, and were cock-a-hoop. For a first outing, they had bowled and fielded effectively as a unit, but Gnodde’s innings was perfectly paced and will be long remembered by all those who witnessed it.