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Hard fought win against Jesus at Girton College

Jesters CC 263-4 (Chak 81*, Smyth 53*, Doward 33, Winchester 33)

Jesus College, Cambridge 189 all out (Chak 3-37)

Jesters won by 74 runs

On paper it would appear we cruised to victory against Jesus College, Cambridge, but this was a win that proved far from straightforward.

On a perfect cloudless Cambridge afternoon, we were inserted by the students on a decent looking Girton wicket (the Jesus pitch is being dug up and relaid this summer). Max Winchester (33) and Ollie Doward (33) got us off to a strong start against their pacers with a stand of 59. DJ Chak (81*) and Achal Varma (30) then put together a half-century stand of their own. The partnership of the innings, though, was the fourth wicket assault led by Jake Smyth, whose unbeaten 53 off 35 balls included two sixes, the second of which was a monstrous pull over midwicket that soared out the ground on to the Girton Road. With DJ also activating beast mode after reaching his fifty, the ferocious pair combined for an unbroken 102 in the last 10 overs. 263-4 off 40 overs, we thought, was more than enough.

However, with Jesus 144-0 off 17 overs at a run rate of eight and half an over, we were rather less sure of a positive outcome. Openers James Douie and Hamish MacGregor set about our bowling with a display of brutal hitting, perhaps liberated by the fact that they knew they had to depart the scene early to make Evensong. We were mightily relieved when the pair retired out. It was at this point that Andrew Short, held back until mid-innings and unbowled since 2019 due to the pandemic, came into his own and made the initial breakthrough. The new batsmen found it impossible to time Andrew's crafty drifters.

While Andrew tied up an end, DJ Chak (3-27) found a fuller length at the other and we wrested control of the match, with the students subsiding to 189 all out. Highlight of the innings was a truly astonishing grab by Alex Smith off John Murphy. As their number three launched a towering blow into the leg side, we all gave up hope of a catch, but Alex's sprint in from the midwicket boundary rope and one handed pluck on the run shocked all and sundry. A moment that will live long in the memory - and reminiscent of this Tendulkar cracker at Lord's in 1990...

Thanks to captain Matt Griffiths and the Jesus boys who provided fantastic hospitality at the ground and late into the night at the Old Crown and back at the Jesus College bar. We look forward to returning to The Close next season on a brand new deck.

Jesters XI: Doward (c), Winchester (wk), Varma, A Smith, Chak, Smyth, Murphy, Purnell, Bell, Hayes, Short

2020 Arnold Woods Trophy winner Tom Bell finally gets his hands on the trophy after 'receiving' the award at the virtual AGM in November


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