As the 5th XI entered its second season, we looked to improve from the solid foundations set from the previous year. In the traditional season opener vs the 4th XI, we had a close run in and nearly caused an upset for the second season in a row. The 4s won the toss put us into bat. Both openers looked to settle in but fell rather cheaply bringing Manazir, Silk and then Perks to the crease to start to set a reasonable total. Unfortunately, wickets fell regularly yet other contributions came from Porter and Gurbutt with the bat as we fell to 224 all out. One of the highlights of the match had to be Pickthorns premeditated leave and being clean bowled. The 4th XI chased the target 8 down with only 6 balls remaining in a close match. Manazir completed a great match with 3 wickets to go with his 49 from the bat. Huxtable won them that match with a brilliant 115 (but we shall not mention the glove behind that Bradbury umpiring missed…)
In the last match before the start of the BUCS season, the mighty 5s took on an Exeter College team. After a game of fresher fives, it was decided that Perks would be loaned to the College as they were a player short. Silk won the toss and elected to bat on a used Topsham track. 250 all out with a solid all round effort from a shuffled squad. The only resistance came from College was loanee Perks who made 40 odd but couldn’t prevent his parent teams victory.
We started the BUCS season against Plymouth’s 2nd team and we went to put runs on the board again. A seriously strong 5th team showed how good the university club is in depth. From the 50 overs, we scored 262-8 with runs coming from Maisey, Manazir and Trotter. After an early catch, keeper Silk took a ball to the face after a dodgy bounce, Hirst took the gloves and Maisey took temporary charge in the field. As Silk returned to the outfield, Leworthy pulled up with a bad back so once again, we were left with 10 men in the field. Despite this, Plymouth fell to 171 all out. A victory of 91 runs.
Our first away trip took us up the M5 to take on a Bristol 4th XI. Maisey and Hirst saw us make a solid start with the bat once again, however, Maisey was unluckily given out and that caused a batting collapse. Jackson and Silk were let to recover the innings, yet soon wickets fell again and we made 132 all out. Bristol batted well and chased the target 5 wickets down. Once again, Manazir was in the wickets and the pick of the bowlers.
A 3-week gap meant the squad had to revise for their exams but desperate to play in the next fixture away at Southampton 4s. On a dangerous looking wicket, we were asked to bat by Southampton. Several batsmen were stuck on the helmet from full balls as we fell to 59 all out. The team still believed though as it was by no means an easy wicket to bat on. Southampton were 37-7 in reply before scrambling home just about. Special mention must go to Zains chat that even had the umpires laughing.
Two days later, we welcomed Southampton Solent 2s to Topsham. For the first time, we were bowling. Solent struggled and so the field became more and more attacking. Three slips, gully and two in close around the bat helped pressure the batsman into mistakes. 69 all out they fell to with Porter getting 5 wickets. In Gurbutts final BUCS match and a low score to chase, he badgered the skipper until he could open the batting (rather than his usual position at 10). First ball, he put in a brilliant cover drive, straight to short cover and he was gone. The rest of the team chased the low target easily with only three more wickets falling.
Overall, a really good season finishing 3rd in a strong league. It looks promising for the future as well with the majority of the squad being in the early years at the university. It was an honor to lead the team with too many good performances to put in this short review.
Player of the Season – Usman Manazir
5th XI Squad List – A. Silk (C), C. Gurbutt, B. Jackson, A. Currin, D. Perks, R. Harvey-Kelly, A. Pickthorn, T. Richardson, M.Hett, E. Flanagan, A. Kendall, S. Edwards, U. Manazir, A. Pegg, M. Warne, P. Tyrrell, J. Eveleigh.