At the end of Trinity term, Somerville College Cricket Club made (recent!) history. In this entertaining match report, Thomas Farmer (2021, English) takes us through the recent dramatic game against Worcester. 

For finalists, 8th week of Trinity term is a time for bucket list completion and final goodbyes. A time to explore new pubs, attend the final Park Ends, enjoy one last Formal dinner. But, for a team comprised of Somerville College Cricket Club veterans, 8th week of Trinity had one true objective: to finally win a game for the Ville.

Whilst the unofficial English football anthem ‘Three Lions’ may lament the ‘30 (now 58) years of hurt’ that has plagued the national side, the last four years for SCCC has been painful enough. Since mid-2020, the Ville has been adrift in a barren desert of cricketing sadness. Many post-match pub trips have had the atmosphere of a wake following a heavy defeat. Long, Odyssean walks back from sports grounds off Cowley road have been deafeningly silent, minds consumed with dropped catches and miscued shots. Our scorebook has become an artefact of sporting failure, recording more ducks than an ornithological journal.

Somerville College Cricket Club after the historic game

With rain, ground unavailability and lack of general cricketing ability denying Somerville a win as the 2024 season was creeping to a close, there was a scramble to arrange one last friendly. One last chance to sample the sweet taste of victory, washing our collective mouths clean of the bitter defeats that SCCC have become accustomed to. Our chosen opponent: Worcester. Only a short walk across Walton Street, a ground where Imran Khan allegedly hit a six, it truly was last-chance-saloon for the veterans of Ville cricket. With our usual pedestrian warm-up, made up mostly of Evan Slater pinging balls around a circle and Wheeler doing a bit of yoga, we took to the field to bowl, unaware that we were about to rewrite the history books. 

Whilst the fielding may have left something to be desired, partially attributable to a certain temporary captain forgetting that he had put in a slip at the start of the innings for a joke, the bowling was as good as it has ever been for a Somerville side. The only team member who had won a game for the Ville before, SCCC legend Evan delivered his usual electrifying seam attack, with Vivek (Sir Viv) keeping it tight at the other end. Freshers Tom Morris and Jack Wiggin kept the momentum up, keeping Worcester’s makeshift batting attack on their toes. Another veteran of the team, Theo Saitch scooped up 3 wickets with pace and bounce. In an unprecedented turn of events, Worcester were (something like) 20-3, then 70-6.

But, as usual for SCCC, it was all going too well. Between overs, Worcester managed to negotiate a loan deal for one of our players, who later revealed to us that he plays for the Uni team. Needless to say, he came out to bat and hit a brutal 49 not out, with the Worcester innings finally coming to an end after 17 overs.

140 to chase. For many sides, this would be a very achievable chase, but not for SCCC. Lest we forget, our first outing of the season ended with us being bowled out for 14. But this time, our recruitment was far better. In true college cricket fashion, we were now merged with OX2 neighbours St Annes. Tom Hunter (a 1st year at St Anne’s) was drafted in to open the batting, and will certainly be welcome back any time. With the temperament of Sir Alastair Cook and aggressive striking of Chris Gayle, Hunter got our innings off to a flyer. I could feel the scorebook quivering in my hands: never before had this diary of defeats come so close to recording a victory.

Yet again, disaster reared its head. Slates and Viv both had solid knocks, but fell fairly early. With a tail that I’m sure no one would mind me calling ‘unreliable’, the game once again was hanging in the balance.

Step forward James Heasom. Although more accustomed to a 9 Iron instead of the communal SCCC Kookaburra bat, the 3rd year historian put his source analysis skills to good use: looked around the pitch, assessed the situation and knuckled down to play a historic 10 not out on his first appearance for the Ville. A Hunter-Heasom partnership, coupled with a bit of undercover work from the Ville boys drafted in to help Worcester field, pushed our total ever closer to an elusive win. At the start of the 15th over, Ville needed 15 to win. Hunter punches a 4 away to the off-side. A no ball. A two. A four. At this point, the Coronas are out of the fridge, SCCC right on the boundary ready to stream onto the pitch. Bowler comes in… it’s gone! The ball flies off Hunter’s bat and races away over the boundary. After four long, painful years, SCCC had finally won a game.

I can only imagine the scorecard has been sent off to the Lords museum, or perhaps even the Louvre, to be marvelled at by children who have been regaled by stories of the plucky Somerville Cricket team, who had finally slain the dragon after an eternity of heartbreak. There are JCR motions being written as I write to commission a mural in the Terrace, a statue on the quad and a portrait in the dining hall to celebrate such a rare event.

A Ville mantra across all sports is often ‘it’s not about the winning’, which is often just as well. Whilst the win, and the post-game beers, tasted all the more sweet after the illusive win, that mantra still remains true. SCCC has always been about welcoming new players with open arms, whether they know cricket inside-out or still find the sport utterly absurd, which it undeniably is. I hope that, whilst the future players for SCCC have a bit more success, the Somerville values of inclusivity and not taking it too seriously remain.

Having said that, after years without a win, today was a day to remember.

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