Before looking at the season of cricket just had, I wanted to make note of two significant losses the club has felt since my last Captain’s Report. I never met Dan Hardy, but our President Adrian Barr-Smith speaks of Dan with great joy and ultimately great heartache. His cricketing prowess with the bat a highlight to behold and a wonderful contributor to the annals of UCC. Losing Ian Batty this past summer, at the time an active member of the UCC Committee in his role as secretary, was hard felt by the club - exacerbated by corona virus preventing a more fitting celebration of his time with us. We will miss you both and what you brought to our small but beautiful club amongst the fields.
Right up until July 2020, the expectation that any club cricket might be played for the year was growing more remote by the day. A string of hot summer days through June and July made the hiatus even more unbearable.
And then, we were back on!
What this meant was a truncated season with the usual league replaced by participation in the Corona League Tier 3 Division B competition. What this translated to was a 5-game group competition followed by a Semi-Final and Final determined by final table position.
We began our campaign on the 25th July at Groombridge. A shortened game due to the promise of torrential rain, UCC held our opponents to 5/94 from 25 overs. Sean Ashfield’s 2/23 and James Thresher’s 5 overs 0/11 were the standout bowling performances with Tom Williams taking a screamer behind the stumps. UCCs response of 1/95 from 13.4 overs was clinical and fantastic way to exercise the demons of our last game at the ground. Tom Williams’ 58 n.o. to usher home the win was stylish yet brutal considering the impending showers. A great way to kick of the ‘season’. We also welcoming two newcomers to the UCC Saturday team – Charles Pring and Jonny Beale – who equipped themselves with fantastic aplomb.
One August 1st we played Chevening Amblers in a nail biter. Holding the opposition to 3/190 was a task, however the fight our batting line-up showed to ultimately come up two runs short was immense. Out opening pair of Joe Williams (48) and Jonny Beale (45) set the platform for a great shot at overhauling the opposition total. Paul Southall’s cultured showing with the bat (49) confirmed the much held view that time in the colonies adds to a person’s cultural gravitas. Yes, you just read correctly. We welcomed yet another newcomer to the UCC Saturday team with Tom Wynn Owen also taking his first wicket for the club (1/26).
On the 8th August we played Limpsfield Chart with temperatures hitting the 40 degree C mark. Although this temperature check is still in dispute, it was hot. Holding the opposition to 7/233 was a task, but pleasingly UCC had 6 different wicket takers. Paul Southall’s 2/20 (8) was the stand out performance. With the bat UCC again showed its fight. In previous years the dreaded UCC collapse would have reared its head, but to finish on 5/203 showed great character. Joe Williams’ 69 and Paul Southall’s 40 n.o. meant we were always in the game but ultimately outplayed by a strong opposition unit.
Our next match against Flimwell was again played in wet, soggy conditions, but the UCC wet weather crew turned out in style. Bowling out the opposition for 58 in 26 overs was a great team effort. Both the bowling and fielding units were immense. Paul Southall continued his great start to the season taking 3/16 (8), Joe Wiles returned to the team and then returned the figures of 2/15 (5), and Joe Williams added the exclamation mark with 2/3 (3). However, the standout performance was put in by our young star James Thresher who ended up with the figures 6 overs, 3 maidens, 3 for 3. UCC overtook the opposition total 3 down after 16 overs. A great team performance.
The 25th August showdown against Withyham was a great day for the UCC brand. Playing against the stand-out team of the competition, who usually play in a league above us, most pundits had this chalked down as a win for the East Sussex crew. What a game from UCC! With three debutants pulling on the UCC sweater for the first time (Stephen Harvey and brothers Freddie and Harry Jones) the team gutted out the competitive total of 9/157.
Joe Wiles 3/21 (6), Jonny Carpenter 3/2 (1.3), Joe Williams 2/25 (6), Sean Ashfield 1/25 (7), and Paul Southall 1/23 (6) all deserve a mention as UCC took a steady stream of wickets to ultimately bowl the opposition out for 99. Every one of our bowling unit took a wicket and with five bowled and three caught behind who said that line and length don’t matter! Just a great win for UCC.
After narrowly missing out on the top two spots in our group table (Chevening 76 points, Withyham 75 points, UCC 70 points) we were placed in the 5-8 playoff semi-finals and a home match against Halstead. With the opposition sent into bat, Joe Williams’ 3/23 (8) was our best performed bowler and helped restrict the opposition to 7/173. A notable mention goes to Freddie Jones as well who bowled with great poise in the pressure cooker atmosphere. As the crowd gathered to see the run chase, the big question on their lips was ‘Can UCC back up their all-round team performance from last week?’
Did they ever!
A hundred run partnership between Joe Williams (38) and yours truly (96), along with a 48 ball 5 from returning dad Dave Close meant UCC passed the opposition total four-down with 15 balls to spare. Another great win!
The final game of the season saw us play the newly amalgamated club of Shoreham-Otford. Batting first on a spongy deck meant we had to work hard for our 113 total, although this did surpass our total here in the very first warm-up game of the season we played. A breakout innings from Jon Sorrell (51) and some late hitting from out late-season recruit Dave Close (15) were our best performers. Jon’s innings was made all the more impressive due to the calibre of bowling attack faced. With the opposition now batting our bowling attack was fantastic. Having them 6/65 in reply we were in the game! Unfortunately, our fairy tale end to the season was not meant to be with the opposition triumphing in a game played with great spirit and comradery.
Overall, season of great promise, DELIVERED.
Post Script – A big thank you to the UCC Committee for all your support throughout the year, to Sean for all his work with Saturday team selections, to Mark for shepherding the Sunday side, to all those who undertook Saturday umpiring duties (thanks Hawkeye!), and finally to all of you who picked up a brush as part of the pavilion refurbishment (especially you Rach!). A big congratulations also to Ollie Streets and George Sorrell who were selected in Kent County Cricket U/18 and U/13 squads for 2021!
To the stats:
Season – Played 7, Won 4, Lost 3
For season batting and bowling averages visit: