A day which saw the best male and female University cricket teams take on each other at the Home of Cricket, was to finish in dramatic style as Loughborough Men’s MCCU knocked off the winning runs with three balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, Lougborough MCCU Women’s team took on Exeter in the BUCS Championship Women’s final, where they aimed to finish the season unbeaten.
Loughborough opted to bat first, and compiled a commanding total of 305-9, on the Nursery ground. Loughborough started strongly, losing their first wicket on 109 from 12 overs, when Georgia Adams departed for a breezy 41. England international Lauren Winfield top scored with 60, alongside good scoring from fellow international Georgia Elwiss, who made 49. Some late hitting from Amy Gauvrit (36*) ensured Loughborough would post a score of over 300 for Exeter to chase.
Loughborough started the Exeter innings well, with Exeter reduced to 20-2 from four overs, after an LBW for opening bowler Becky Grundy, and a superb run out from Natalie Sciver. Three more quick wickets for Grundy in the next ten overs took the score to 47-5 from 14 overs, and Loughborough began to pile pressure onto the batting side.
Two wickets in two balls for Grundy including a sharp take from Amy Jones, left her with excellent figures of 6-10 from her allotted overs, and reduced Exeter to 60-7 from 21 overs.
England opening bowler Anya Shrubsole was then brought into the attack and secured the victory for Loughborough, taking the remaining wickets shortly after drinks, to bowl Exeter out for 68, and give Loughborough a huge winning margin of 227 runs.
In the Men’s Challenge Final, Leeds/Bradford MCCU chose to bat first on what looked to be a good wicket. Gavin Baker removed Gubbins in the fourth over with the score on 15, to give Loughborough first blood in the final.
A fantastic catch from Tim Le-Breton, who caught the ball one-handed over the boundary, and was able to throw the ball back into play to complete the catch himself, brought Loughborough their second wicket on 55, after 16 overs.
Following this, Leeds began to build partnerships, with opener Henry Thompson and Will Vanderspar putting on 150 for the second wicket, to leave Leeds in a strong position at 215-2, with 6 overs remaining.
Enter Devon Endersby, who removed the dangerous Vanderspar for 78, and then had Thompson caught and bowled on 97 with 4 overs remaining. The next ball Endersby removed Davis to give himself the chance of a hat-trick, however he had to wait for his next over to remove Alex Macqueen and leave Leeds on 230/6, and take his fifth wicket of the innings.
Loughborough finished strongly to hold Leeds to 244-9, with Endersby finishing with excellent figures of 6-42.
The Loughborough innings started steadily, until Anish Patel (8) was caught on the boundary with the score on 20. Jack Sterland (25), and opener Mark Best (111) began to move through the gears to keep the score ticking over, and when Sterland was bowled by spinner David Foster the score stood at 80-2 from 17 overs.
The game ebbed and flowed in the middle overs, with Loughborough gradually building partnerships to near the Leeds total, however Leeds took timely wickets to peg back the chasing side. When Gavin Baker (5) was caught from the bowling of Vanderspar, Loughborough were reduced to 160-5, needing 85 to win from 17 overs.
Wicketkeeper Michael Burgess (25) and opener Best, who was nearing his hundred took the score to 211/5, with Loughborough needing 34 from the final 6 overs to win the match. However, when Burgess fell for 25 with the score on 212, it was left to Best to see the game home, and complete his hundred.
With Loughborough needing 30 to win, Best brought up a fine hundred which would prove to be match winning. However, he perished for 111, with only 11 runs required from 16 balls and only three wickets left. This left it to number nine Lewis Bramley (6*) to finish the match and begin the Loughborough celebrations after he hit the first ball of the final over for four to tie the scores, and then scrambled a single to win the match with three balls remaining.
Loughborough Mens MCCU will now look to win their 3rd trophy this season, when they take on Exeter in the BUCS 50-over Championship final at Kibworth CC on Wednesday.