With the talent in the squad, combined with excellent coaching and facilities provided at the Sir Christopher Odaantje Devon Cricket Centre, the target for the 4th XI was promotion. However, with the squad’s attendance at socials being far better than training, this feat was not going to be easy.
During pre-season we narrowly beat the 5th XI, which was mainly due to the extraordinary feat of Jack Huxtable’s maiden EUMCC ton. To score a ton is one thing, but on the second pitch at Topsham against an attack including Gurbutt, Currin and Jackson, with the Silkstar constantly in your ear is truly outstanding. After chasing a large total, we went into the BUCS campaign confident of smashing the many 1st XIs in our league and gaining promotion.
This thought quickly disappeared after our first two matches where our batsman failed to turn up.
Against Plymouth 1st XI we bowled well, restricting the opposition to 252 on what Glyn loved to point out as ‘IPL sized boundaries’. Will Gee and Owen Walton were the pick of the bowlers taking 3 apiece, but some better fielding could have ensured we’d be chasing under 200. As it happens, this would have made no difference, as we struggled along to post 120. A solid opening partnership from Wilko and Will Anthony gave us a good start, but after their dismissals our batting crumbled, with players failing to bat time.
For the next fixture, home to Southampton 2nd XI, we decided that batting first would solve our issues, aiming to set a total, put runs on the board and hope our strong bowling line up will create enough pressure for their batsmen to fail. While this plan seemed a good one, it turns out that even on the second Topsham pitch, 52 runs is not quite enough. While this was disastrous, our bowling attack was not phased and had it not been for the noise of the M5 stopping the umpires to hear a nick, Exeter would have gained a dramatic win. Owen Walton once again shone with 6-14 off 10, ably supported by Glyn Lewis taking 2-17.
With two losses from two, thoughts of gaining promotion quickly turned to avoiding relegation. With poor availability amongst the final years in the squad due to exams, Will Anthony took the reins against Bath 2nd XI. A deserved win was achieved with a complete performance. Half centuries from Janaum Rao and Max Hancock set a total of 200 on the Topsham deck, and Bath were bowled out for a mere 77, with Will Martin taking five wickets.
Unfortunately, Skipper Culhane was available the following week for the fixture against Winchester 1st XI. A similar story followed with our batting struggling, setting only 120, and Winchester knocked them off with relative ease, losing five wickets. However, Tom Wilkinson’s bowling was a highlight, taking 3-23 off 10 overs, bowling his 60 balls in only five minutes.
Going into the final game of the season in need of a win to stay up, we travelled to Salisbury to play Southampton 3rd XI. Batting first Callum Hirst scored a magnificent hundred, while Matt De Kock’s quick fire 50 helped set a large total of 241, in which Southampton had 42 overs to chase. In reply, Southampton looked set to chase the total with ease, but tight spells from Matt Rose and Toby Pullan kept Southampton to 225 for 8, gaining a 16 run win for EUMCC, with relegation avoided.
Overall the 4th XI have had a mixed season on the pitch, with two wins and three losses in BUCS, however with strong BUCS debut seasons from Anthony, De Kock, Walton and Wilkinson it looks like the future of EUMCC is in good hands.
I’d like to thank all the players that have contributed to the mighty 4th XI, in particular Jack Huxtable and Will Gee in our captaincy committee, and Glyn Lewis for his self-designated role as social sec.