With two solid wins under their saddle bags, the Camels train rolled into Bristol and faced their sternest test of the tour so far – against a university side brimming with talent and confidence – and managed to eke out a three-wicket win with two balls to spare in their T20 encounter.
A crowd of overseas students visiting the quaint Coombe Dingle ground to sample British cricket culture were spellbound by the on-field excitement, their gasps of surprise and delight interrupting play at regular intervals.
And why not? It was a picturesque setting in front of the historic pavilion, made possible thanks to the generosity of the Accademicals and CSL Cricket captains, Geoffrey and Billy.
The very first over, bowled by Haniel, brought five dots and a wicket, clean bowled. The Camels had it easy? Not at all. Seventeen runs came from the next over, courtesy of Geggan. The punished bowler, Dave Starkie, recovered by bowling two maidens to the dons’ number three, A Blocker.
Camels skipper Tom Wooding tried six bowlers in an attempt to slow Geggan’s rate, but the classy right-hander was only hampered by losing partners who regularly stole the strike off the last ball of the over.
Two run outs, one a direct hit from the boundary by Wooding, and a vintage stumping by Dave Mason off the bowling of the evergreen Steve Turner, proving that age, or in this case dotage, is no barrier to cricketing prowess.
In between, Mumtaz’s right arm round action brought him two wickets, and there were catches for Graham Hoar and Dave Axtell. A late burst of sixes and fours from the University skipper Al S Logger brought him his half century and a challenging target of 135 at almost seven an over.
This was no easy call for the Camels who are unused to batting in fading light. As the clouds closed in and the clock ticked, nearby floodlights at a football match helped a bit to illuminate the ground.
The Camels were well ahead of the run rate thanks to Wooding and Axtell, the latter illuminating the game with late cuts and scoops. After 10 overs, the situation had turned and the Camels were well behind the run-rate after losing Axtell and Paul Baker.
There was worse to come! Mason and Matt Rees, who had amassed over 100 runs in the previous match, both fell for ducks in consecutive balls, chasing wides and lobbing up simple catches, as Wooding, stranded at the bowler’s end, could only gaze on in wonder. A bizarre double case of hero to zero.
Now the Camels showed their resilience and strength in depth. Wooding picked up the pace with a couple of sixes and many more fours to reach a masterly 50. Then one after the other, Fergus Shaw, Graham Hoar and Dave Hilton gently nudged and nurdled the score along with the occasional boundary and plenty of cleverly stolen singles.
In near darkness, the climax came in the final over with seven needed for victory. A dot ball. Mmm! An edged double. OK! A wide. Phew! A dot ball. Uh-oh, still four required.
After the umpire declined the batsman’s request to put a bell in the ball, Hilton decided enough was enough and guided the next ball through third man for the winning boundary. So, in the end it was the tourists who gave the university a lecture. The dons were suitably impressed and have invited the Camels back another year for a revenge match.
Rural Blagdon CC provide the next opponents for the Camels.
Bristol University XI 134 for 7 in 20 overs lost to Awali Camels 135 for 7 in 19.4 overs by 3 wickets.