Sport Writer Alice Hunt reports from Edgbaston as UOB faced fierce competition in the BUCS indoor finals
The University’s women’s cricket team (UBWCC) returned to Edgbaston’s indoor centre on Saturday to compete in the BUCS indoors finals day. Having qualified for the final round in October, UBWCC’s first team were ready for another exciting day of cricket. The team were supported by an enthusiastic crowd, with many club members making the short journey to cheer the team on.
Birmingham began the day with an excruciatingly close defeat to Exeter – who went on to win the competition. Meg Austin opened the batting alongside Captain Gemma Porter and provided an exciting batting performance, being forced to retire with 26 runs. Both Rosie Dyer-Slade and Caitlin Belcher also finished the innings not-out, with Birmingham scoring 106 runs in the regulation ten overs. Impressive cricket continued into the team’s fielding innings. The team’s two fast opening bowlers, Katie Harman and Caitlin Belcher, began the innings the way they left off in the previous round – with consistent fast bowling which got the spectators on their feet. The impact of the Vice-Captain – who got two wickets, including one in the first over – was appreciated by her skipper. She stated that “Katie continued to be a reliable bowler, always putting pressure on the batter and taking key wickets in big moments”. Despite a strong performance with the bat and ball, the team began the day with a loss – though it took eventual winners Exeter until the penultimate ball to secure this.
More exciting play was provided by the team in their second fixture – this time through securing a strong victory against Sheffield. An important bowling performance from Porter, which included two wickets, meant that Sheffield ended the ten overs on 99 runs – an achievable total for Birmingham to chase. Harman and Grayson also contributed with a wicket each, which highlighted the depth of talent throughout the team. In the second innings, more strong batting was to follow from Birmingham, with Austin and Porter both retiring and finishing on 27 not-out and 25 not-out respectively. Porter praised her opening batting partner Meg Austin, explaining that she “showed her experience and class with the bat throughout multiple strong performances”. Dyer-Slade also scored an impressive 17 runs, alongside some strong keeping behind the stumps. A solid batting and bowling performance secured Birmingham a win which was very much deserved.
Birmingham then faced Durham in their final game of the day – with the two teams fighting for a place in the semi-finals. While some exciting batting continued to be displayed, including an impressive scoop shot from Vice-Captain Harman, Birmingham were unable to secure the victory. Despite the loss, both Porter and Grayson retired on 25* each, though the team were restricted to a total of 94 runs. While Harman was able to get another wicket to her name with the ball, Durham reached the total in the final over, sending them through to the semi-final.
While this meant that Birmingham did not reach the semi-finals of the competition, the day was still significant for the club overall, with many members eager to watch their club-mates be successful. This excitement was felt by the players, with batting all-rounder Sophie Grayson explaining their impact, as well as the general optimism among the team – “our squad had a really positive and fun vibe, it wouldn’t have been the same without all the amazing people that came down to watch”. The club’s President Rachel Eatough also enjoyed the togetherness on show by UBWCC, saying “there was a great atmosphere given most of the club came down to support the team. Everyone got involved in supporting and making banners which really boosted morale on the day”. Furthermore, Captain Porter was keen to share her pride in her team’s performances. She said “I’m really impressed and proud of the team’s performance. We came so close to beating the best and second-best teams in the country”.
Overall, despite the results, the day was a success for UBWCC. With one win and two defeats to the two teams that would make up the final, the team played some impressive cricket and made the club proud. Its strong group morale was evident, with the banners and enthusiasm brought by those not playing creating a positive atmosphere for those representing the club on the pitch. The club now looks towards preparing for a thrilling summer of cricket ahead.
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