Lost by 4 wickets
I can report that the bruise on my thigh is progressing nicely, blue centre is changing to yellow with the blue spreading outwards. I'm expecting a full rainbow before it finally disappears
Bright sunshine greeted the start of the match, which eventually got under way considerably late owing to a chase around Cambridge to try to find some wicket-keeping gloves. While the threat of showers was never far away, the match was only briefly interrupted. The combined effect of the delay and the rain break was for the captains to agree to a 25 over match half way through the first innings.
BPBC won the toss and elected to bat. Jon Glass arrived at the ground after the toss and was somewhat surprised to be told he was opening the batting in 4 minutes time. After three throw-downs as a warm up, he joined me in striding out to face the best that First and Third could offer. I faced the first ball from Jon D'Arcy and allegedly was incredibly lucky as I totally failed to connect with the ball (not unusual) and it missed the stumps by an inch. After that auspicious start, the openers survived the first 11 overs and produced BPBC's first ever fifty partnership, albeit assisted by the difficulties that the First and Third wicket keepers were having in preventing byes. The batsmen moved into an offensive mode, but Graham Sills' bowling had hit top form and wickets tumbled with both Jon and I departing in the space of 12 runs with Graham Reid only staying briefly at the crease. Mike Goodson came in at four for BPBC and continued the attacking theme with Dan Darley at five regaining the initiative for the batting team with his usual flurry of boundaries. Dan and Mike shared a useful 31 run partnership but unfortunately Dan's innings was once again just too short.
Neil Talbott's arrival in the middle was accompanied by the inevitable loud calls for singles, often seemingly made long before the ball had even pitched. Meanwhile First and Third's standard of bowling and in particular the ability of the wicket keepers to actually stop the ball had risen throughout the match and - perhaps with the exception of the captain - all of the student team's bowlers returned more than reasonable figures, with those missing out on the wickets manage to stifle the scoring rate instead in an excellent team performance.
After Mike Goodson's dismissal, Mark Crawford came in to bat looking to avoid his third first-ball duck in three innings for Black Prince. Both of his previous dismissals had been catches so the fielding side took the opportunity to crowd around the bat. Unfortunately Richard Bullock couldn't produce the ball to get the wicket and Mark missed out on an even bigger chapter in the history book. However, his arrival did mark the beginning of the end of Black Prince's innings. Mark scored two, and then Nigel Kaye unfortunately failed to trouble the scorers, giving Bryn Garrod two quick wickets. Neil Talbott did an excellent job of protecting the tail, managing to score all of the runs in the eight wicket partnership, but was eventually out to Jon D'Arcy, finally giving Jon a well deserved wicket. Clive Ponsonby and Graham Fisher saw out the innings - the first time that Black Prince BCCC has survived its allocated overs.
An excellent tea was provided over which both teams anxiously looked forward to the second innings, with the consensus being that the game was finely poised. Neil Talbott was more anxious than most as he had to leave early to make it back to his base in time for a mysterious military manoeuvre. With this in mind, Neil opened the bowling for Black Prince, with Chris Ingram facing the first ball and Dan Walker batting second. Dan Darley kept wicket for Black Prince with absolutely none of the problems that First and Third's wicket-keepers had faced - indeed, he did so well that the long stop/3rd man was virtually redundant.
Neil, bowlng in partnership with Mark Crawford, gave Black Prince the start they needed, with First and Third restricted to below the required rate. Chris fell first, lbw to Neil, and Mark picked up Jon D'Arcy's wicket in the next over, leaving the home team on 22-2. Mike Goodson then came on for Mark and took Graham Sills' wicket - Neil taking the catch but in the process landing head first on the floor. This prompted a rest for Neil for a couple of overs with Graham Reid brought into the attack.
While things were looking rosy for Black Prince, Dan Walker and Andrew Lea-Cox decided to dig in for First and Third. Their 57 run partnership was measured, controlled, and very well paced. They scored at the required run-rate and took the sting out of the Black Prince bowling attack. Dan eventually fell to Graham Reid with the score on 93. First and Third hadn't won the match at this point, but his innings had built a platform to make victory likely if not certain.
The Black Prince bowling attack was remarkably consistent - Talbott, Goodson, Reid and Glass all went for around 6 an over - with the exception being Mark Crawford who was extremely economical on a fairly benign pitch. The major fault - and probably the difference between the teams - was the number of wides (about one every nine balls) conceded by the Black Prince bowlers.
Bryn Garrod, who had replaced Dan, only scored in boundaries - including a fairly hefty six - but was undone by Graham Reid. 29 runs were still required, and, with the exception of Andrew Lea-Cox (and with respect to the remaining Trinity batsmen and women), the most dangerous College players were now relegated to a role as spectators. First and Third were still scoring on the required run-rate and it was either team's game.
Jenny Lee, however, was above Black Prince's best attempts to intimidate her into surrendering her wicket early. Goodson, Reid and Glass (who managed to cope with the pressure of bowling the vital penultimate over as his only over without any sign of stress) couldn't dislodge her and in the end it was an unfortunate run out in the frantic final stages of the match which took her wicket.
Like Dan earlier in the innings, Jenny had provided excellent support to Andrew who was still comfortably scoring and pushing First and Third to their target. His well deserved fifty had come up in the final over and while it now seemed preordained that he would lead his team to victory, Black Prince were not going to go down without a fight. Fielding at point, I got fingertips to a ball somewhere over my head but frankly holding onto a catch was never going to be a realistic aim and I settled for stopping the boundary. So it went to the last ball and, fittingly, Andrew was able to hit the winning runs, completing a fine innings which deservedly won him the man-of-the-match award.
While losing still hurts, it was far more enjoyable and rewarding to be able to play in such a finely balanced match compared to the one-sided games in previous years, and hopefully Black Prince will be further strengthened next year as a few more members of College graduate (again). It was a great team effort from both sides - runs and wickets were shared and the quality of the fielding was higher than in previous years.
Once again, credit must go to Tom Rose for being a fair and consistent umpire throughout, to Honey and Rachel for an exceeding good tea, and to Mark Crawford for organising the pitch. I guess we'll be back at Madingley next year, but Girton acted as a fantastic substitute.
Hopefully, it's now only a matter of time until BPBC win...