The University of Kent has been crowned the national champions for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) indoor national club championship in 2023, the first university side ever to win the competition. The team, which is now the most successful indoor cricket team that the university has ever had, went unbeaten throughout the National club competition from the beginning of the Kent regional league which started in October through to the final’s day at Lords, the home of cricket, on April 2nd 2023.
The route to Lord’s
Indoor cricket is a form of cricket that some may be unaware of. Teams consisting of 6 players play in a hall with specific rules that allow for competitive cricket to take place indoors. The key changes compared to outdoor cricket we all know and love, is that to hit 4 or 6 runs the ball must be hit against the back wall behind the bowler, which is an extremely high-risk option. The other three walls are worth a run if you hit them with the ball – but you can be caught off the walls so be careful! Running between the two wickets is worth two runs instead of 1 and finally, it is last man standing.
The competition began for the boys with the Pharon Kent regional league, where UKC played against a number of teams including the likes of Canterbury Christ Church University, Chestfield CC, and Canterbury CC (who were national champions just four years prior) – a tightly fought league that came down to a winner takes all decider between Canterbury and UKC which was won by the University of Kent. Once the league had been won, it was through to the Kent Regional finals where UKC would go on to win 3 games in one day to become the Kent County champions for the first time, beating everything that has been accomplished by a UKC team before them breaking records from here on out. In the next round UKC was one of the few teams not to be provided a bye, but due to the opposition pulling out were now through to the East and London regional finals day, with the prize of getting to national finals on the line. A smooth win against a less strong Purley on Thames CC and a convincing win against Waltham CC meant that the lads were confirmed national finalists.
National Finals Day 2023 – Semi Final vs Neyland CC
The final hurdle to climb for the boys would be 2 games played at Lord’s, the Home of Cricket. First up was a National Semi-final against Neyland CC. The first ball was bowled at 11:00, UKC was put into bat and didn’t have an ideal start being 0-1 and 10-2. Their backs were up against the wall already but with small contributions from Lewis White (11), Owen Griffiths (11), and Kartikye Wadwha (19) as well as a captains knock of 33 not out from Euan Munday the boys managed to put 79 on the board which turned out to be a defendable total. Griffiths and Wadwha took the new ball, instantly applying pressure on the Neyland batters who got off to a nervy start, but they kept the runs ticking over and managed to accumulate a first partnership of 27 before the loss of the first wicket as Munday hit the Neyland opener in front of all three. The Neyland batters were still accumulating runs managing to get to 32-2 before Griffiths struck next. However, with Neyland 67-2 with 4 overs remaining it was over to White to take 2 wickets in as many balls making it 67-4, and Munday taking the 5th wicket of the game at 69-5 it was all down to the final two overs with Neyland still in the driving seat. Two overs to go, 11 runs required and the Neyland in batter scored 7 off leaving themselves with 4 runs to win off the final over. Two dot balls to start the over built pressure, before a leg bye in the third. 3 balls left, 3 to win, and what happened next was as crazy as it sounds. Wadwha bowls and hits the Neyland batter on the pad with big appeals for LBW turned down and the batters looked to run to win the game, however, the quick-thinking White with a clean pick up off the back wall and a backhand flick throw to Durrant at the keeper’s end, running the batter out by the barest of margins – Kent won the semi-final by 1 run, with 2 balls to spare.
Top Run scorer: E. Munday – 33*, Best Figures: E. Munday 3-1-2-9
Final vs University of Sheffield
After the University of Sheffield beat Cherry Willingham CC it was a first-ever University vs University final. A repeat of the BUCS indoor 3rd vs 4th place playoff game which Sheffield won in February. Sheffield won the toss and elected to bat first, and O. Griffiths bowled the spell of his life taking 2 early wickets as Sheffield were 18-2 finishing his spell with 3 overs, 2 wickets for just 14 runs. However, Sheffield Uni batted extremely well against a firing bowling attack, 4 batters retired, and they finished on 114 setting UKC 115 runs to win, which looked like a daunting task. However, in complete contrast to the first game. Liam Durrant and Luke Williams batted out of their skin. Putting on a 40-run partnership before Durrant scored one of the most important 25s in the university’s history and retired. Scoring above the required run rate, Munday was in next, and Williams got to 22 before being run out, with Kent 65-1 and cruising White came in and was run out with the score at 88-2. Needing 27 to win, Griffiths entered the pitch and again continued in the same vein of form allowing for runs to be scored freely from both ends before Munday retired off 10 balls. The final batting partnership of the day to take UKC over the line had to involve K. Wadwha, better known as the wizard. Griffiths and Wadwha ticked the runs over until UKC needed 3 runs to become national champions and as he always does, in style, Wadwha hit a boundary to crown the University of Kent as the National Champions.
Top Scorer: E. Munday – 27*, Best Figures: O. Griffiths 3-0-2-14
Pictured: Mid innings team huddle during the Final vs University of Sheffield
Celebrations with the University of Kent supporters that came down to Lord’s to cheer on the boys
The playing squad from Left to right: Owen Griffiths, Luke Williams, Liam Durrant (Wk – Sports Scholar), Euan Munday (Captain – Sports Scholar), Richard Durrant (Coach), Kartikye Wadwha, Lewis White.
Not in picture – Jarryd Taig (Coach), Henry Smith (7th Man)
Image credit Sarah Williams Photography UK (http://www.sarahwilliamsphotography.com)