Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Loughborough throw the big guns at Exeter

The biggest compliment Loughborough MCCU (a team combined of players studying at both Loughborough College and Loughborough University) paid to Exeter University, who they met yesterday in the BUCS Championship final, was to field the strongest team that they could possibly muster for the occasion.

It featured seven full England internationals (five of them centrally contracted by the ECB), two England Academy players, one EWDP U19 player and one Div 2 county player. By contrast Exeter had just two England Academy players, two Div 1 county players, and four Div 2 county players in their ranks. The Loughborough side which took the field would be expected to beat any of the current Div 1 county sides and would probably give the touring Aussies a decent game. The result of the match was therefore somewhat of a foregone conclusion, but Exeter gave the girls in purple plenty to think about on their way to their fifth title in a row.

Invited to bat by Loughborough on the postage stamp Nursery Ground pitch at Lord's Exeter made a poor start losing openers Amara Carr in the third over and skipper Bryony Butcher in the sixth, to
Aylish Cranston - Player of the Match
leave themselves at 11/2. But Aylish Cranstone (50) and Fi Morris (20) saw off the new ball attack of Anya Shrubsole and Beth Langston, but just as they started to build their partnership Morris was lbw to Nat Sciver. The partnership had added 55. This brought the belligerent Lissy MacLeod (33) to the crease, who wasted no time in dispatching balls to all parts of the Lord's practice ground, including a towering straight 6 off Rebecca Grundy into the neighbouring gardens. She and Cranstone had added a very lively 51 runs to the total in just eight overs before MacLeod perished chipping Georgia Elwiss tamely to midwicket. Cranstone and Phoebe Graham (10) then took the score on to 138/4, Cranstone reaching her Player of the Match fifty in the process, before both fell - Graham adjudged lbw to Grundy and Cranstone bowled behind her legs by Marie Kelly. Freya Davies (15) and Rebecca Silk (23*) set about rebuilding the innings again and together they added 35 for the seventh wicket before Davies was bowled by one that kept a little low from the returning Langston. Only 13 more were added in the last few overs to leave Exeter on 186/7 at the close.

It was never likely to be enough and Loughborough seemed determined to put bat to ball from the outset. Georgia Adams (21) crashed three straight fours off Davies's first over, but she adjusted her length and got her revenge in the fifth over as she bowled Sussex team-mate Adams with a good yorker. Had Butcher managed to hold on to a sharp chance at short cover off Sciver in the same over, before she had scored, Exeter may have put some more pressure on Loughborough. As it was it went to the boundary as did several other shots off Sciver's and Amy Jones's bats.  They had taken the score to 98/1 in the 13th over before Jones played over one from Butcher and was bowled. Elwiss came in to take over where Jones had left off and the pair moved the score swiftly on to 141, when Sciver, having just achieved her fifty, was run out by a good throw from the boundary by Silk. Relative calm ensued and Elwiss (41) fell lbw to Silk with 19 needed to win. With just seven needed Davies was thrown the ball again and removed Paige Scholfield (5), and must have been mighty close to removing Shrubsole lbw first ball, which might have sent a frisson of nerves through the purple ranks. But the umpire deemed it to be missing leg stump and Shrubsole ended the game next over with Loughborough's only six of their innings.

Full scorecard is here.


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