On a warm but windy day down at Weetwood, Leeds’ 1st XI took to the field for their season opener against a strong Scottish Universities side. The track was, as ever, hard work for the batsmen, with green tinges and a variable bounce causing their fair share of problems.
Skipper Tom Simmons fell for a second ball duck after a particularly sore beamer got the game under way, before Nick Gubbins advanced to a delivery that held up in the pitch, and was caught at mid-on. Wickets continued to fall, but Sasha Ward dug in, displaying grit and determination on the way to 34 before losing his castle. Guy Balmford and Caleb Stewart, two of the team’s fresher faces but a pair of promising talents, put their heads down and carved out a respective 15 and 14 to keep the bowlers toiling and the scoreboard ticking.
In gutsy and determined LUUMCC style the tail wagged firmly, with Joe Ellis-Grewal wading in with 6 before being trapped leg before and Ross Dixon hitting a vital unbeaten 22 to see the total up to 121.
The below par score proved a rallying call-to-arms for a superb bowling attack as Harry Rouse began with a wicket maiden, and superb opening spells from Rouse and Doug Pratt saw the Scots crumble to 13-5, with the former bowling like a man possessed and the latter extremely unfortunate not to be among the wickets, with tricky chances going down at short extra-cover and down the leg-side to the keeper.
The main remaining hindrance for the home side was the opposition’s number three, who managed to weather the early storm, and even after drinks with batsmen continuing to fall before his eyes, stayed put. Bad became worse for the away side however, as 13-5 became 44-7 from 26 overs, Chris Williams and Joe Ellis-Grewal chipping in with wickets, including a superb stumping from Caleb Stewart.
It was not long before the innings came to an end, James Padden coming on and scalping one with a slightly over-pitched yorker, before Rouse returned to the field after a breather to finish the job he had begun and end with stunning figures of 6-16. It was a performance that displayed the spirit LUUMCC will hope stays with them all season, as a busy schedule begins with fixtures in the Christie Cup and BUCS league. Good luck to the boys for the rest of the season.