The 1st XI had clear goals for the 2016 season: win BUCS Premier South, win promotion back to BUCS Premier A via the playoff, and win the BUCS trophy. Having come off a very promising indoor campaign, which saw the 1s reach the last four in the country, there was a lot of ambition going into the outdoor season.
A young Somerset 2nd XI played host to the EUMCC 1st XI in the season curtain-raiser, and an imperious performance from the boys in green followed. An accomplished bowling performance restricted Somerset to 230 on a pitch that strongly resembled an extension of the M5, and this paved the way for a comfortable 7 wicket win, aided by some clinical batting.
Before the BUCS season commenced, there were more victories against Bristol, Devon Lions, and the MCC among others. However, the first BUCS game away at Bournemouth was a wake up call for the team. Bowling first on a wet one, Bournemouth batted with a lot of determination to reach 191-8. At 9-1 after 5 overs promotion was looking a long way off, but the April weather intervened and made sure no more play was possible.
A week later and the 1st XI welcomed Oxford to their new fortress, Exmouth CC. Burden and Pedel set the tone for the day with the new ball and Oxford were restricted to a below par 137 all out. Against a disciplined and varied attack, Exeter’s batsmen applied themselves well and it was only a mini collapse just before the finish line that tarnished the win slightly.
An organised performance against newly-promoted Swansea resulted in an 8 wicket win, as the mist and drizzle rolled in at Exmouth. This was followed by the replay against Bournemouth, who this time met a more confident and dominant Exeter team. A target of 90 was chased down with ease, and the team was really starting to come together.
Exmouth CC witnessed another efficient Exeter performance against Cardiff Met. A mature 81 from wicketkeeper Luke Matthews was the foundation for a victory in excess of 100 runs. With the game against Surrey rained off and unlikely to be rescheduled, the 1s went into the game against Southampton knowing that a win was vital in order to top the group. Put into bat on a spicy Topsham wicket, Exeter soon found themselves 50 for 5. However, experience shone through and 3rd years Tom Coldman and Alex Hughes began the rebuilding job, leading us to 198, with Hughes batting through for an exceptional 69*.. A disciplined start from Burden, Pedel, and Fleet was followed by a wonderful exhibition of spin bowling and Southampton were bowled out for 132; Exeter had achieved their first goal of winning BUCS Premier South.
The reward for this was a shot at promotion, away at Bristol. Another tidy bowling and fielding display reduced Bristol to 170-9 in a rain reduced 42 overs. Further rain reduced the target, and all looked under control until an alarming middle order collapse left Exeter needing 28 from 2 overs with only 3 wickets remaining. However, some clean striking and some scampered singles From Fleet and Mills saw the boys home with one ball to spare, and back to where they belong in BUCS Premier A.
The side of 2016 though, still had further ambitions. Coventry made the trip down to Exeter CC for the trophy semi final, where they found an Exeter side playing with immense freedom, and great skill. Another rain reduced game saw Exeter thunder to 261 for 5, underpinned by a majestic 97 from Craze. The bowlers did the rest, and a trip to Kibworth CC to take on Loughborough was on the cards.
A soggy Kibworth meant another rain reduced game and a damp wicket. A battling 82* from Mills dragged Exeter to 199 for 8 in the allotted 45 overs, and the game was very much in the balance. Another expert spin bowling display from Exeter, and some fine death bowling from Burden resulted in a historic victory for Exeter, with Loughborough falling nine runs short. It was a fitting conclusion to a memorable season for the 1st XI. Thanks must go to Julian Wyatt, Bruce Coleman, and Sandy Allen for the contributions they made, along with all the players who made the success of 2016 possible.