This season was a successful one for the Merton-Mansfield cricket team. Blighted by poor weather the Ms remained resolutely positive and played the game in excellent spirit with a smile despite whatever the opposition threw at us.
The first match of the season was against the Old Boys’ XI and despite a superb rearguard from Jack Kellam (Mansfield 2015) (67 not out) and BZ Gilinsky (2015) (1 not out), the Ms fell victim to a 43-run loss. Our league campaign began in earnest shortly after with a convincing victory over Queen’s, thanks to an impressive bowling performance from Andy Stevens (2015) and Joe Manktelow (Mansfield, 2012) in particular. The next two games were cancelled due to inclement weather so it wasn’t until halfway through the term that the Ms played their second league match against Exeter. Exeter batted first and thanks to a sloppy fielding performance were able to score far more runs than was ideal. As the conditions became more demanding, the Ms’ batting lacked the firepower to chase down the total, falling to a 57-run defeat in the end. Two more rain-affected games followed before the final league match of the season against Univ – a convincing five-wicket victory thanks to a sparkling spell of bowling from Kallol Gupta (JRF, St Catherine’s) and slick fielding. The Ms finished the season in fourth place, just seven points off the top spot, a campaign that will be remembered for what could have been.
The Cuppers Competition also saw the Ms acquit themselves with aplomb. Our league team was bolstered by the addition of University players Matt Naylor (2015), Immy Brown (Mansfield 2014) and Richard O’Grady (2013), all of whom played important roles in the Ms’ performances. The Ms reached the quarter-finals this season, beating Queen’s and Pembroke along the way. The quarter-final match against Brasenose will go down in folklore. Chasing 109 thanks to a strong batting performance from Immy Brown, Brasenose needed a six to win off the last ball and much to the dismay of the whole team succeeded with what was the only six of the match. Losing in this way was very difficult to stomach but having pushed a historically strong college so close was something to be very proud of, especially given that nine times out of ten we would have won in that situation. Again it was a story of what might have been but we will be back next year for Cuppers and hopefully go one or two stages further.
I would like to pay tribute to James Lisle our groundsman for his excellent wickets and match teas, and also to all our players this season who gave up their valuable time to represent the Ms. They were a credit to themselves and to their colleges and it was a pleasure to play alongside them. Fingers crossed for next season!
Harry George (2014)
Merton-Mansfield Men’s Cricket Captain 2015-16