Still smarting from their recent defeat to Balliol, Worcester swept past Catz on Monday to make it through to the next round of the Cuppers competition.
Chadwick took a five wicket haul, just one of a number of Blues players in the Worcester squad. Sutton would have joined him but was denied by a quick run-out from Howie. They led a devastating bowling attack that set up a ten wicket victory and stated their intent to regain the cup.
Catz batted first under an overcast sky and despite the occasional boundary scored slowly to begin. The Worcester bowlers bowled skillfully and, assissted by a combination of overcast conditions and a gentle breeze across the wicket were able to extract movement in both directions from the new ball. Openers Alvey and Williams struggled to deal with the accurate bowling and energetic fielding of the home team, but seemed relatively safe and offered few chances as they batted out ten overs. With the eventual departure of his partner, Williams became more aggressive and looked Catz’s most dangerous player throughout. Wickets fell steadily at the other end however and he himself was vulnerable, sending one delivery floating through the air but fortuitously landing just ahead of the chasing fielder. This reprieve for the Catz batsman meant Catz were briefly in line for a three figure total, but these faint hopes did not last long.
Immediately after a drinks break Williams was stumped charging down the pitch and attempting a cross-bat shot. As he returned disappointed to his team mates it looked doubtful whether the visitors would make 50, despite 20 overs remaining. After this Worcester never looked back and McKenna was dismissed first ball. Despite a plucky effort from Morgan at number 11 before he was run out, a target of 55 was never going to be defendable.
The clouds had cleared and bright sunshine covered the picturesque Worcester ground as their batsmen strode out confidently to the centre. With even the elements seemingly against this Catz side, victory was always going to be a formality for the talented Worcester batting lineup, and they chased the total with a mixture of style and patience. For a while they seemed unhurried, apparently preferring a leisurely stroll to victory. Catz never lost their enthusiasm and they were rewarded when Worcester showed they weren’t invulnerable by offering one good chance, which was dropped in the deep. Worcester were not in a charitable mood, though, and offered no second chances. As they settled in, the openers struck some well-timed boundaries and Blues player Lodwick provided the highlight of the game with an imperious six straight down the ground that even Chris Gayle would have been proud of. Shortly afterwards they wrapped up the game, having taken precisely ten overs. This performance was so dominant, that even ten wickets does not do justice to the margin that Worcester were superior to Catz in all areas of the game.
Worcester captain Tom Crewe said after the match: “It’s a very satisfying win. We have a very strong side so hopefully we can put a good run together.” Ben Rick for Catz was gracious in defeat, describing Worcester as “a very strong squad” that “look like hot favourites to win”. If they maintain this standard of performance they will certainly pose a challenge to any college side out there.
It seems certain that there will be few challengers to the seeded teams of Worcester, Queen’s, Hertford and defending champions Univ, but Worcester will be hoping they are able to face more opposition like Catz, who, in truth, offered an utterly abject display and looked beaten before they even stepped out onto the field.