Balliol (63-2) beat New/St Hilda’s (62 all out) by 8 wickets
By Joe Mansour
A re-run of last year’s Cuppers final saw a devastating spell of opening bowling by Balliol’s new-ball attack tear apart New in a match that saw the Jowett Walk side lay down an imposing marker for the coming season. Pace-bowlers Rob Frome (4-16) and Alex Hawkins-Hooker (1-6) were too much to handle for the New batsmen, who saw “extras” top score with 12 in what was an impressive display by a Balliol side determined to get revenge for last year’s Cuppers defeat.
Balliol had to wait just six deliveries for the first wicket, Frome clean-bowling Cripps with a full delivery that left the opener trudging back to the pavilion with New yet to get off the mark. A second wicket was to follow in the next over, as captain Hawkins-Hooker, fresh from some fighting talk ahead of the match, saw debutant wicket-keeper Rob Wight take a catch down the leg-side following an attempted flick off the pads. The New batsmen struggled for rhythm, their first boundary not coming until the fifth over with the aid of an inside edge, a tight Balliol line giving them nothing to attack. Frequent wickets did nothing to help the matter, with Frome’s destructive third over resulting in two more New batsmen falling for single figures, leaving the Cuppers champions flailing at 13-4 off six overs. Frome’s pace and consistency was aided by Balliol’s energetic performance in the field, and this brought its own rewards when some sloppy New running between the wickets brought a run out and a fifth wicket.
Struggling at 15-5, New were lucky to even make it past fifty, with a couple of chipped shots into the off-side falling just short of the Balliol in-field, while Hawkins-Hooker put down a difficult caught-and-bowled chance and an even easier chance was put down by Dan Beary with the ball coming high out of the sky.
The wickets kept tumbling, however, and by the time Frome fittingly picked up New’s final wicket only two batsmen had made it to double-figures. The chase was to prove an easy one for the Balliol batsmen, and despite losing their two openers in quick succession, with Maxwell falling for a quickfire 23, it was captain Hawkins-Hooker who saw Balliol over the line with successive boundaries. In reality, though, all the hard work had already been done.
Keble grind out win against Worcester
Keble (171-5) beat Worcester (152 all out) by 19 runs
By Miles Dilworth
Keble overcame Worcester in a hard fought contest on a difficult surface at Summertown. Neither side found it easy to score freely on a slow and uneven wicket, but a tight finish ensured the game made for absorbing viewing nonetheless.
Keble were first to endure the frustrations of batting on the typically green surface and made steady if unspectacular progress. Miles Dilworth needed all 40 overs available to compile a Boycott-esque 73 not out to anchor the innings, and was aided along the way by important cameos from Andrew McCulla (28), Rishi Majithia (24) and George Saunders (14) who managed to prevent Keble’s run-rate from coming to a standstill.
Despite losing an early wicket, for 30 overs or so, it looked as though the target of 172 was well within Worcester’s grasp, but Keble’s discipline began to improve after the drinks break and scoreboard pressure began to tell on the away side.
Willoughby (35) and Wilks (41) were the mainstay’s of Worcester’s innings and although wickets began to fall around him, with Wilks at the crease Worcester always looked in control. But an inspired spell of bowling from Ali Garner proved the turning point, removing Wilks with a sharp return catch, before disposing of the Worcester tail with relative ease.
On a pitch that was offering plenty for the bowlers but little bounce, Garner was the only seamer who produced consistently good lengths, drawing batsmen forward, and his figures of 4-15 from 7.3 overs were fully deserved.
Keble will be pleased with an openining win, but Worcester will feel they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
St Catz pip M&M with single-wicket win
St Catz (104-9) beat M&M (103) by 1 wicket
By Hugh Brannan
On Wednesday 24th April Catz and Merton Mansfield got their 2013 cricket seasons started with a memorable match.
Given the proximity of the ground to Catz and the added support this brings, this fixture often has an added edge, but M&M had a controlled starting, negotiating the first 10 overs without loss against the Catz’ new ball pair of Jake Whittaker and Sagar Shah. However the introduction of debutant off-spinner Andries van Tonder resulted in a fine boundary catch by Joe Kidd and from that point wickets began to fall at regular intervals. At drinks the match was finely poised at 70-3, but the return of Shah to the attack, proved crucial, as he produced three maidens, accounting for a couple of middle-order batsmen with improved pace and deadly accuracy. Ably supported by Hirst, only M&M captain John Dean offering much resistance to an improved Catz attack with a hard fought half-century. But when Dean (55) was trapped LBW by a ball that kept low, Whittaker pounced to wrap up the tail and Merton Mansfield were bowled out for 103.
Although Catz lost a couple of early wickets, Kidd (40) and Alun John (34) rebuilt well, with the considered approach of Kidd providing the perfect foil for John’s aggressive approach. When John was eventually well caught at point a couple of quick wickets followed reducing Catz to 88-5, but with only 15 runs to get and relatively experienced batsmen at the crease Catz appeared to still be in control.
However, the return of opener McClymont to the attack turned the game on its head as he took 4 wickets to leave Catz teetering at 95-9. With Whittaker and Shah at the wicket, both hastily recalled from the library, the game became incredibly tense as McClymont’s final over produced many play and misses from Whittaker who, having forgotten his glasses, confessed to barely being able to see the ball.
Crucially, M&M’s opening partnership had finished their allotted overs, and the Catz began to creep towards the required total.
Finally, with 4 runs required, Shah leapt on a short delivery, pulling it to the boundary prompting celebrations in the Catz camp. The final result: a one-wicket victory for Catz.