Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Sport Twin Triumphs for Exeter at 2024 Cricket Varsity

Twin Triumphs for Exeter at 2024 Cricket Varsity

Oliver Lamb, Print News Editor, reports from the University of Exeter's 2024 Cricket Varsity victories.
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Cricket Varsity 2024
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On a beautiful day at the County Ground, the University of Exeter triumphed twice. Batting first, the women’s and men’s teams defeated Devon County Women and Oxford UCCE by 71 and 30 runs respectively.

The women’s game began at 11am. Whereas Exeter’s XI was first-choice, Devon selected a young team. The County Ground tends to favour batters, and it was no surprise that Exeter, upon winning the toss, chose to bat. They took full advantage, making a score that the opposition never threatened to come close to.

Exeter’s opener Rebecca Odgers appeared to play on a different pitch to everyone else. What was nearly a catch for cover off the first ball of the innings, instead brought Odgers four, and from then on she peppered the boundary with powerful strokes. When the 50 partnership came up in the fifth over, she had 35. Throughout Odgers’s onslaught, Innes’s seam bowling provided impressive control. 

Amelie Munday found it tougher going. Exeter’s good start did no justice to the way Devon found movement from a full length. The visiting side will have been disappointed with their fielding: Odgers was dropped in the seventh over, and Munday was dropped twice, as well as benefitting from a fielder losing the ball in the sun after a top edge.

Odgers retired for a superb 71 in the eleventh over. Instead of bringing respite for the Devon bowlers, this was Munday’s cue to take over from Odgers. She struck three sixes either side of her second drop, before retiring on 56.

Phoebe Wilkinson and captain Imogen Cooper continued to build the score. A drop in the run rate was matched by reduced threat from the bowlers. Ironically, it was during this period that Devon took their only wicket of the innings, Cooper spooning Turner’s delivery to the fielder having got away with the same shot earlier in that same 18th over. Amelia Marshall hit three fours in a late cameo of 18*. Wilkinson finished 23* and Exeter 204 for the fall of just one wicket.

Exeter scored an impressive 204 for the fall of just one wicket, a Devon win already looked extremely unlikely.

Devon’s innings started much as Exeter’s had, with threatening new-ball bowling (by Cooper and Issy Peacock) yielding no wickets. The difference was that neither Golsworthy nor Verreker were able to impose themselves as Odgers had. A flurry of runs in the fourth and fifth overs did not make up for a slow start, and once the powerplay concluded, Marshall continued to constrain the batters with an impressive spell of leg-spin. A Devon win already looked extremely unlikely.

The breakthrough came with the score on 71. A ball after being dropped at deep square leg, Verreker clothed a pull shot to mid-on – Jasmine Sharp the bowler. Boote made one run before being caught by the keeper in Alice Mundy’s first over. Daldorph was then run out for 0. Throughout this, opener Golsworthy made understated progress.

Mundy’s spell of seam was threatening but blighted by extras. The left-arm seamer Evie Duley bowled waywardly but also with threat. Three catches were dropped late in the innings, but they were difficult chances and for Exeter the most important thing was that the boundaries had dried up. The only question remaining was whether Golsworthy could reach 50 off the final ball. Sadly, she was stumped for a commendable 49. Despite losing my 71 runs, Devon’s score of 133/4 reflected well on an inexperienced side.

The men’s fixture was delayed by ten minutes from the planned 3pm start. Again Exeter won the toss and batted. A late-innings collapse and poor fielding did not derail their convincing victory over Oxford, underpinned by a brilliant 92 from Johnny Connell.

Oxford sprung a surprise by opening the bowling with the leg-spin of Wajid Shah. It worked in the first over, off which two runs came. Next over, Connell hit a six over cow corner in the first blow of a commanding innings. 30 runs came off that over and the next, and so it was against the run of play that Seb Stuart-Reckling had Oliver Cox caught behind for 5 with the first ball of his spell.

Left-armer Stuart-Reckling bowled with serious pace, but it was Connell who continued to catch the eye. With orthodox strokes he hit boundaries to all parts, and quickly reached 50. 27 runs came off the ninth over, Connell hitting three sixes and captain Dylan Church, who had hitherto lain low, adding one of his own. The only way Oxford could stem the runs was to remove Connell. They finally did so in the thirteenth over; the opener sliced a drive to depart for a sensational 92.

By then, Church had begun to accelerate. Powerful slog sweeps for six were the highlights of his progress to 50. Charlie Mumford made a streaky start, but a reverse flick for six was rather more convincing.

Oxford’s belated fightback came in the eighteenth over as Exeter pursued quick runs. Mumford scooped to leg slip off Stuart-Reckling. Church then tried to slog sweep – an unusual shot choice against Stuart-Reckling’s pace – and was bowled for 55. Next over, Mills benefited from excellent catching in the deep as Jamie Baird and Charlie Sharland departed. Stuart-Reckling took the final over; he bowled Jack Dickson, saw Luke Pearson-Taylor miss a scoop first ball, and then had Harvey Cutmore caught in the deep – the fielding again impressive. That earned Stuart-Reckling a deserved five-for. 

Exeter’s total of 205/8 forced the Oxford batsmen to go for it from the start.

Exeter might have been disappointed to lose six wickets in the last two overs, but their score of 205/8 remained a good one. It certainly forced the Oxford batsmen to go for it from the start. The early part of the innings was a story of traded blows. With Pearson-Taylor opening the bowling, Mills swung and missed at three of the first four balls of the innings; at the other ball he swung and edged for four. Ayush Patel got a life in the next over when, off Tommy Draca, he top-edged the ball between two fielders who collided and dropped the catch. Patel celebrated by flicking the next ball off his legs for a magnificent six.

Pearson-Taylor deserved the wicket he got in the next over – that of Mills, caught off a top edge. Gordon scooped his first ball for four. It summed up a frantic innings of 17 runs across just two overs. Trying to repeat the scoop, he was bowled by Draca.

Patel then took 22, all in boundaries, off Pearson-Taylor, whose otherwise excellent spell was somewhat spoiled. Again Exeter hit back: Shah, attempting to slog sweep Luke Charlesworth’s seam bowling, was bowled for one.

The power play was certainly Exeter’s, but it was the middle period where the game was won.

That wicket made it Exeter’s powerplay: 65/3 after six overs. But it was the middle period where the game was won. The home side turned to the left-arm spin of Samm Daniel and George Addy. Daniel in particular was impressive in restricting the runs, to the benefit of his partner. As the required run rate crept higher, Oxford were forced to take on the bowling. Patel, trying to hit Addy down the ground, sliced to gully for 40; Addy also had Sravan Konidena caught at long-on. Dunlop advanced quietly but effectively.

Exeter took wickets in spite of their fielding, not because of it. The over before getting out, Patel had been dropped for a second time, at deep square leg. Oxford gave up a run-out chance in both the eleventh and twelfth overs; the first was spurned, the second taken. Dunlop was the victim, for 30.

Oxford continued to swing hard, but it was always likely to be in vain. Chahal and Simeons fell in a single Charlesworth over. Daniel got reward for his efforts by taking the last two wickets in the nineteenth over. Oxford were all out for 175, giving Exeter a deserved 30-run victory.

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